“The royalty must die like common beggars and petty thieves.”
– Rody Walker
Part of being a writer involves consuming large quantities of literature so as to forever be broadening your horizons and increasing your knowledge. Most of the time this means you get to actively search for brilliant authors and ingest rich texts. But sometimes you find yourself trawling through blog posts, manuscripts, journal articles, and everything else thinking what the fuck is this shit? You respect the author; they’re one of your favourites. But the work is just sub-par. It’s too familiar; too comfortable. You finish reading and you sit there with this fucked up taste in your mouth and a mind full of disappointment. One of your favourite writers missed the mark because they erred on the side of caution and played it safe, producing a manuscript without any real heart.
We’ve all been through this moment. A script just doesn’t feel right. A movie is just OK. A song leaves you feeling a little let down. The work the author produced before this was brilliant, but this just feels… Blah.
One of the greatest risks to any author or artist is the threat of becoming creatively stagnant. You are in a drought, desperate for a wave of pure inspiration; so you start dredging through failed ideas, or even worse, past successes in a desperate attempt to replicate some minor success. You create a script that is palatable or marketable in the eyes of the literary world and you start flogging it to anyone stupid enough to accept your second rate dribble.
It seems like a good idea at the time. And I know that every successful author bangs on about the idea of consistency, but if the best you can do is rip off your own shit, it’s time to take a break. Walk away for a bit and allow yourself time to recharge and refocus, then come back when you are ready and write your fucking heart out.
Lately I’m becoming a little disillusioned by the shear amount of second rate shit that is flooding the market. It’s incredibly disheartening to be busting your arse to try and carve out a niche within an industry notoriously difficult to enter, only to see those on the inside churning out page turners with a lacklustre plot and an achingly familiar protagonist. I’m aware that I sound like a prick here but I really don’t care. When you find yourself rife with boredom page after page you need to start asking some serious questions of the once great authors who are now plodding through their high concept action thriller like a fucking aging Clydesdale ploughing a field.
But who is at fault here? Is it the author who has found their formula for success? Or is it us as fans who become so conditioned to accepting their work as brilliant based solely on reputation that we fail to call bullshit when they start slipping? The truth is that it’s probably the latter. We’re at fault; every single one of us. Our failure to call out second rate trash has allowed an industry to fall into a rut.
But it’s not too late to turn things around. There are still some phenomenally good writers producing magnificent scripts every single day. But if things are going to change authors across the globe have to learn how to embrace their inner mongrel once more. To paraphrase an old expression, if you want to change the world you can’t do it through peace. You need do it with a knife. If peace is what you desire then you need to fight for it with every inch of your soul and you need to fucking earn it. Brilliant writing is the same. If you want to be the best then you have to fight for it. You have to spend time crafting out scenes that leave the reader shell shocked. And when you become the best; when you have usurped everyone else and stand atop of the best sellers list you have to fight twice as hard to stay there. Your success has drawn a target on your back.
I often refer to the author in me as a wolf. I’m vicious, I’m raw, cunning, and a bit of a prick. Sometimes I own that analogy, and sometimes I feel emotionally crippled by my own desire to savage any other author within my reach. Give me a chance and I’ll sink my fangs into the throat of an opponent and shake until their vertebrae snap and their blood fills my throat. I’m a wolf. And I’m the damaged one. I want to hurt, and I truly believe that’s what this industry needs right now.
We need aggression, we need raw passion, and we need writing that forces us to re-examine exactly what it means to produce brilliant work. Right now the royalty of the industry have a stranglehold over what is considered to be great, but it’s time for the royalty to be challenged and for a new wave of conquerors to rise. I’m not necessarily talking about myself here either; I mean, I’d love to see myself succeed, but I’d also love to read a fucking book that isn’t predicable dog-shit too.
So where to from here? Because I’m speaking out of place aren’t I? Let’s be honest, it’s so easy to stand on a soapbox and talk shit when you have nothing to lose. And maybe if I was standing in the shoes of a successful author I’d be singing a different tune. Sadly, I’m not. So I’ll keep screaming my lungs out until I’m heard or someone dares to silence me.
From here there are two paths for me to follow. I can keep going down this path. I push myself through passion and determination in an effort to become a force to be reckoned with within the literary industry. I’m young and I’m a cocky son of a bitch, so it could happen. Time is on my side. Or I can step down off of my soapbox, pick up a trashy page turner and concede to a life of struggling to see my work in print while a bunch of fucking has-been’s and copycats produce a bunch of shit….
….But I’m a wolf. And I’m the damaged one. I don’t want to settle. I want to fight. The royalty must die. New heroes must rise. And then in time they too need to fall. This industry will crumble unless each new wave of talent moving through it pushes the envelope of great literature just that little bit further. Show me an author with raw talent and a hunger to succeed and I will show you fifty best sellers he or she can out produce. It’s not disrespect that has been saying this it’s love and admiration of an industry. The royalty must die.