Dear John,

You’ve had a rough week this week, even for you, and I think I may have figured out why you are lashing out at others and inciting what few non-Tor employee relatives that still buy your books to attack other writers who’ve done nothing to harm you.

You shouldn’t be this bitter, Mr. Scalzi. You’ve won an award or two, just landed a seven-figure, multi-book publishing contract and have a family. Yet, despite this success you often sound angry, sometimes even deranged and pull stunts like this one:

58848b0e0de1b

I mean, what exactly were you thinking when you slapped on that blue lipstick anyway? About the only apparent point anyone could take away from this is that you are an idiot.

Recently, you’ve set your minions on other writers. Even I have been targeted when I didn’t even invoke your name or even try to throw shade in your direction. Yet, somehow, your minions, at your behest it seems, decided that I was a jealous contemporary of yours.

Um, no, John. Not even close. Because when I compare your writing career of 22 years to mine of 33 years, there is nothing about your career to be jealous of. Your brief (8 years) newspaper career was insignificant – opinion columns and movie reviews – and any writer with any self-respect would never have gone to work for AOL. By comparison, my 26-year newspaper career spanned hard news and sports news and I rose to the level of editor at the second-largest newspaper publishing company in the U.S. Along the way I collected several awards. I see none for you during your eight years.

And yes, you got started in fiction writing before I did – primarily because I was still enjoying great success in newspapers while you needed to find somewhere else to write – but let’s be honest. You’ve written two serviceable books and coasted on that success. Your last release was very late, underperformed badly and even you are now admitting you are well behind on the second book.

It is starting to look like you may not fill out that contract, John. And there lies your problem and one explanation for your anger.

You’re trapped, John, in a prison of your own making. You have no freedom to write what you want. You have been sentenced to writing in just one genre and only that which your benefactor dictates.

It is you, John, who is jealous of writers like myself, Brian Neimeier, Jon Del Arroz and other Independent writers. We are free to write what we want, in whatever genre we want, how we want and publish it to our readers with full artistic control.

This is something you simply don’t have.

Which is why you are struggling to write today, John, and not, as you claim, “Because Trump is President.” Your jealousy drives you to blame others for your woes, to spend your time raging against other writers on Twitter and Facebook.

There is one other reason – possibly the main reason – why your rage has taken full control over you, John.

You’re 48 years old and maybe for the first time you are facing the possibility that your best writing is far behind you. It’s frightening, John. Trust me, I know. Because I was 48 once and when I faced that abyss it scared me too.

You see, John, we aren’t contemporaries at all. I was earning my first paycheck as a professional writer back when you were a sophomore in high school just coming to terms with the realization that you would never be cool enough to get into the pants of that hot cheerleader.

So when I turned 48, and my newspaper days were done, I had no idea what lay ahead but darkness. However, I took inspiration from another writer who went through the same career track you and I have been on.

I started out working in the West Texas oil fields before making the move to newspapers and magazines in 1984 and retiring as an editor before starting my fiction writing career in 2013 and I discovered Jack McDevitt’s life story at that time.

You’ve heard of Jack, haven’t you, John? He started out in the Navy, retired, became an English teacher, retired again and started writing. I think you would agree he has had a long, successful run.

Over the past few years, I have written and published (both traditionally and independently) five novels, two non-fiction books, eight short stories for anthologies (six either accepted or already published and the other two still pending a decision), been a regular guest & guest host on a weekly radio show with 400k listeners, started my own publishing company with another writer, in discussions with a Japanese publisher to have my books translated in Japanese and sold in their bookstores in Japan, in discussions with two different producers regarding possible adaptations and in discussions to begin my own radio show which will have hundreds of thousands of listeners guaranteed before I even utter the first word.

And the future ahead looks bright and clear for me. I’m co-writing a western, editing an anthology and have six more projects outlined and ready to go as soon as I clear the decks of that I am already working on. And that doesn’t even include the 12-part graphic novel I am going to shop around soon.

And now we come to you, John. I think you have looked ahead and you don’t like what you saw at all. I think, in the back of your mind and in your heart of hearts, you know the awful truth.

You can’t handle that truth, John, and you are lashing out in hurt, in anger and in fear. I wish I could tell you that your path ahead will be as fruitful and satisfying as mine was back when I turned 48, but I can’t.

All I can tell you is that you can change where that path takes you. But the only way that will happen is if you break free of that gilded cage you’ve trapped yourself in. You can’t do it alone, John. You are going to need help.

Ironically, the people who can help you are the very ones you’ve been attacking. Hopefully you will realize that we want to see every writer succeed, even you, and we’ll be here if you decide to turn away from that dark abyss and stop these excuse-making attacks.

The first step in the journey is always the most difficult. One direction leads you to more hate, anger and bitterness. The other, to more years of true fulfillment as a writer.

It’s your choice, John. Choose wisely.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s