“I’m not an author. I’m a writer.”


Heh. I finished up the latest section of A Key, An Egg… yesterday morning. It was a really difficult section, too, in which a home invasion completely destroys the protagonist’s house, and dangerously ups the stakes.

Now I get to start the whole book over from page one. After a healthy dose of outlining, of course. Fun!


Ta-Nahisi Coates said that obesity is the third rail of the blogosphere, and damn if he isn’t right. He links to a rather tame and unimpressive post about the BMI which had to have comments closed because people went nuts.

Because… yeah. As a culture we’re raising awareness about sexual pleasure and, even if we aren’t 100% sane (or ever likely to be) we’re tossing the issues of privacy, preference, et al back and forth.

Not so with the pleasure that comes from eating. People are still weird about their food. Anyone who talks about vegetarianism knows that. People have strange compulsions regarding their food, and they hate to let other people examine them closely.

Coates also says, in the comments, that his legs hurt constantly when he was 295. Damn. I weigh about that and have the same problem…


Last, I want to take note of this essay by Richard Kadrey about his new Sandman Slim novel.

Let me start by saying these books sound very good. They sound like they would fall right into my reading sweet spot: Fantasy elements in a book inspired by the best crime and detective fiction of the previous century. Wait a minute! Is this my book? ::checks Amazon.com sales ranking:: Nope! His numbers are too good.

My point is, that if I weren’t trying to write something utterly different from my usual stuff, I’d be all over this guy’s books like ugly on an ape. Then I read this:

It all comes down to this: I’m not an artist. I know artists. I have friends who are artists and I’m not one of them. Mickey Spillane said it best, “I’m not an author. I’m a writer. That’s all I am.” Occasionally I wonder if I even write novels. I write long shaggy dog stories. Messy, kind of odd and noisy. I love the graceful sloppiness of early punk and the garage rock you find on Lenny Kaye’s Nuggets record series. I feel like my books and stories are similar to the way Iggy Pop describes The Stooges music, “It’s dumb. But it’s smart dumb.” My books are basically Raw Power with commas.

Hmph! I’m guessing Iggy Pop isn’t a musician, then, because he doesn’t play music.

I’ve gotta spray this grafitti again: If you’re writing fiction, you are an artist. I don’t want to get into a debate about where to draw the line through art/not art. Fiction isn’t an edge case. Fiction is art.

Now, it may be bad art. It may be utterly conventional art. It may be an ass-kissing hand-jobbing desperate-to-please whore in a Mary Sue mask, but it’s still art.

Art isn’t a term of praise. It’s not a label we reserve for those things that “terrify” us but never “seduce” us. It’s not a superlative. If you make something that exists mainly for the purpose of evoking an emotional reponse from people–in other words, if you’ve written a story, you’ve made art.[1]

[1] What say you, Wikipedia? “Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way to affect the senses or emotions. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including music, literature, film, sculpture, and paintings.”

That makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I know; I used to be one of them. Also, I used to get as obnoxious about it as: “Yes, I wonder about the nature of our existence, but I don’t get all Tolstoy about it.”

So I understand the urge to try to avoid being an artist. Who wants to be compared to Tolstoy? Who wants their readers to think the books we write are good for them? Does McDonald’s go around telling customers that their burgers are high in fiber?

Hell no. McDonald’s wants to sell their burgers; they only talk about the taste and talk about nutrition as a side issue. Eat this tasty burger! Read this exciting thriller! Don’t worry, I’m not like those high-minded guys your school teachers forced on you. I’m fun!

It doesn’t work, and it damages the art you make.

Call it low art if you want. Or pop art. Hell, call it “art-tertainment.” I don’t care. But don’t try to tell me it’s not art.

And buy that dude’s book, because it sounds awesome.

Jeez, I’m really ranty these last two weeks, eh?

Let me make up for that with this: you can win a free copy of GAME OF CAGES (plus other awesome books) by entering this Suvudu contest.


Anyway, I won’t be around to respond to comments for a while. I’m in training today and tomorrow. Pity me!

2 thoughts on ““I’m not an author. I’m a writer.”

  1. tim

    Reading Richard Kadrey’s new book now and it as well as the previous are very good. A bit more on the S&M side than yours but very similar.

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