Yacking It Up

Posted on Updated on

October is Depression Awareness Month. I’m not qualified to comment on the terrors that extreme mental illnesses might bring, but all those who suffer these things have my deepest sympathy, and respect for trying so hard to overcome their inner demons. Way down the scale, every human experiences sadness and depression to some degree. If you’ve never been sad or depressed at all then I don’t want you anywhere near my space. I imagine that totally unfeeling people could be a little dangerous. Everyone’s had the blues at sometime. Maybe just for a day, but sometimes for much longer. And certainly weeks of depression should raise alarm bells as it could be caused by much more serious anxiety issues.

Over the last few weeks I’ve seen a lot of depression about on the web. Maybe it’s the time of year. Sometimes the change of seasons brings on sadness and anxiety – this is an actual condition. Could be some sort of collective internet unconscious depression. It is possible for groups of people to get collectively sad. I think Jung actually did a study on it. The internet is a place where you really do get close to people and very involved with groups, especially as a writer. In a way sometimes, I think that people give more of themselves there than they do in their physical lives. Blogs and groups are often places to share your innermost thoughts and feelings, safe in the knowledge that your second cousin twice removed, or your brother, or whoever is in your actual space, isn’t going to be howling with laughter and telling everyone they can what a tool you are.

We form very real connections on the web. I’ve made friends with many people who I not only respect but truly have deep affection for as people. And it pains me when I see them hurting. It’s no secret that writers are a crazy but incredibly sensitive bunch. You have to be. How can you share life’s tribulations and pains in your scribbles if you don’t – to some extent at least – feel them? After the review barnies, which really made me wonder about my own current course of action with my scribbling, we’ve had a couple of bigwigs talking smack about independently published authors. One guy said that by not going the traditional route we aren’t actually published authors at all. He said we’re merely writers who share stories online, or something equally disdainful. I won’t go into all the self-published success stories in our defence – but those didn’t change the fact that I did indeed feel like a tiny piece of turd, and got a little blue when I read that. Jonathon Franzen said that, “While Jeff Bezos of Amazon may not be the antichrist, he sure looks like one of the four horsemen.”

He went on to say,
“Amazon wants a world in which books are either self-published or published by Amazon itself, with readers dependent on Amazon reviews in choosing books, and with authors responsible for their own promotion. The work of yakkers and tweeters and braggers, and of people with the money to pay somebody to churn out hundreds of five-star reviews for them, will flourish in that world. But what happens to the people who became writers because yakking and tweeting and bragging felt to them like intolerably shallow forms of social engagement? What happens to the people who want to communicate in depth, individual to individual, in the quiet and permanence of the printed word, and who were shaped by their love of writers who wrote when publication still assured some kind of quality control and literary reputations were more than a matter of self-promotional decibel levels? As fewer and fewer readers are able to find their way, amid all the noise and disappointing books and phony reviews, to the work produced by the new generation of this kind of writer, Amazon is well on its way to making writers into the kind of prospectless workers whom its contractors employ in its warehouses, labouring harder for less and less, with no job security, because the warehouses are situated in places where they’re the only business hiring. And the more of the population that lives like those workers, the greater the downward pressure on book prices and the greater the squeeze on conventional booksellers, because when you’re not making much money you want your entertainment for free, and when your life is hard you want instant gratification (“Overnight free shipping!”).”

Charming, isn’t it? Over the past few weeks I’ve seen a couple of really well-respected indie writers bow out entirely too. I don’t know if it’s because it’s just that time of year when we’re all just a little tired of all the work over the last nine months, with Christmas approaching, and then the time to look back and see what, if anything, we’ve accomplished, or if it’s because the indie industry seems to be taking a lot of loud and public knocks lately. But it is saddening to see people who really are great authors – traditional or not – take themselves and their future bookworlds out of my life.

It is true that there is an ocean of really terribly bad books self-published on Amazon. We can’t deny that. I got to wondering if mine were too after reading those things, and thinking that maybe I was living some sort of delusional, self-involved pipe dream and wasting a whole lot of my life trying to be something that I’m not and never could be – a pucker author. Then I thought, the hell with that Dagwood! The whole point of Amazon is that anyone anywhere in the world can publish their work, regardless of whether it’s a steaming pile or not. That’s the whole point of Amazon. If that has a nasty result on your traditionally published bank balance, again, so what? If only one in every ten thousand books self published on Amazon turns out to be a gem, it’s worth it. Better than ending up on some slush pile because somebody in the traditional world had a lunch date and no time to glance at more than your title. It’s what Amazon IS. Nobody is forcing anyone to buy a single thing. And if you do buy it and you don’t like it you get to say so, even if you’re not Kirkus. So what if people give away free books? If they’re good then they’ve served their purpose, and if they’re not, they’re not stopping anyone from buying a traditionally published book.

Why on Earth would hundreds of apparently illegible free books give any reader worth his or her salt any joy? Do you want those kind of guys to read your book anyway? Amazon is the most fantastic thing as far as I can see. They’re still new, and I seriously envision a future not too far away where it won’t be possible to self-publish any old thing you like. It will get top heavy and have to think of ways to prune. But they aren’t the antichrist at all. They’re giving thousands of possible geniuses the platform to showcase their work for free. Not everyone can afford an editor, but just because they can’t doesn’t mean they’re not someone I want to read. Go Amazon!

They actually do have a couple of rules that seem to be being bypassed by way of both perfect editing and content. But so what? That’s the nature of the beast. I have found typos and grammatical errors in all of my published scribbles, and I’m fixing them. At the end of the day my books will be as perfect as I – the totally self-published “person” – can get them. I like my scribbles, and there are enough honest reviewers out there, who will hopefully share what they think of my stories – good or bad – to eventually sort the wheat from the chaff as far as future readers are concerned. Maybe one day I will find out that I’m such a rotten scribbler I should be dragged out and shot at dawn, but until I do I’ll just carry on having a blast with my books – or “online shares”.

So you can tell me that I’m a yakker and a tweeter and a bragger, and that I’m not an author. Call me a writer. Hell, you can call me anything you like, but I’m not ready to hop off the bus yet. I reread Jonathan Franzen’s article after a few days of real black gloom and self doubt, wondering if I should do what I’ve always said I wouldn’t and hand my scribbles over to publishers just to be “legit” – I have had a couple of offers believe it or not – and then I saw the rest of his diatribe for what it really was. The pompous pontificating of an arrogant tool. So I’ll stick to being the indie that I love to be. We’ll be just fine at the end of the day. Independent writers will sink or swim, make millions or not a dollar, but we aren’t going anywhere but where we choose to go, no matter how loud ya all yell fellas. Now I’m off to do a bit of yakking. Don’t let the bigmouths break you down scribblers. Just do what you do and enjoy it.

Image0073

Advertisements

44 thoughts on “Yacking It Up

    kizzylee said:
    October 9, 2013 at 8:33 am

    brilliant post jo, very interesting reading, we are on the same wave length and i myself prefer indie/self published i believe it is the public as always that will determine what happens, i think fifty shades proved that, no matter what the platform if the people want it they find it, myself i am happy the only contract i was ever offered i ran away from ^_^ they wanted full rights to my book and i find that akin to saying they will take my baby, my books are my babies and aint no one having control but me so indie is my choice and i feel lucky to have a choice, thank you for sharing this post jo and i hope you have a lovely day hugs n love xx

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 9, 2013 at 8:48 am

      Thank you lovely Kizzy! You’re right all the way too. The one time I considered (for a very short time 😀 ) going with a publisher, actually just thinking about doing it brought on a pucker panic attack. No one but me’s having control of my babies either! LOL! We’re just the same you and I. You have a lovely day too my friend. xxxxxxxx

      Like

    cicampbell2013 said:
    October 9, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Have to agree with you and Kizzy. I want to keep control. My books are my babies. I put a heck of a lot of intense work into making them as good as I possibly can. I don’t want someone who doesn’t care about them, just about the sales they might make, mucking them about to make them ‘more commercial’.

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 9, 2013 at 9:24 am

      Spot on Christine! It’s all about the money and making them commercial. The group of indies who really are serious about writing and getting our books as polished as we can are on the right track. We don’t get our babies chopped and changed to suit trends, and we get to keep the dollars that we make all to ourselves. I’ve got a niggling thought that that whole review debacle played right into the hands of those who feel that their old boy livelihoods are threatened by the volume of ebooks coming out – they certainly jumped on to the bandwagon suspiciously quickly to lump us all in together with those who really are just out to publish crap and con people into buying it. I’ve read lots of totally independently published books that are just as fantastic to read and impeccably polished as any traditional book I’ve had. I’ll really be upset if I see any more indies give way because of all this. I reckon maybe some more nastiness will come our way too. xx

      Like

    The Story Reading Ape said:
    October 9, 2013 at 9:41 am

    After having read and reviewed three of your books (and currently reading and enjoying your latest one), I can assure you that you ARE an Author.
    Is this bias on my part because you are a friend? – Absolutely NOT!
    It’s because your stories drew me into them – if they hadn’t I wouldn’t have read them all the way through, never mind left review comments about them – I could have said nothing about them and you would not have been any the wiser.
    🙂

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 9, 2013 at 9:48 am

      It’s true – I wouldn’t have been any the wiser! Thank you dear Chris – you just made my day a whole LOT brighter. 🙂 XXX

      Like

    jastaunque said:
    October 9, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Reblogged this on jasthinkingaloud and commented:
    And now, I’m depressed. Not because of what this post says but because of what this post says. See? You know what I mean. I woke up today intending to write something on ‘depression’ and how it is not a disease but a socially-created symptom/apparition of futility and helplessness. While I was trying to find a humorous way to put it and wasn’t getting anywhere, my favourite blogger and virtual alter-ego, Jo Robinson, got around to saying it EXACTLY the way it ought to be said. Fantastic insight. You’re always in my head, Jo. And in a de-stressing sort of a way. It’s good to know that someone out there, in the big bad world, has tender, sensitive, yet well-reasoned thoughts on a subject like this. And I’d like to add that people who’ve never felt a pang of pain ever, are the ones who go about creating a depressed world. Yeah,yeah…that calls for a big round of debate.So, prep up your swords, readers. I’ll do some homework and come back to parry those moves with Jung on my side. Soon, i hope. Meanwhile, read on!

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 10, 2013 at 3:37 am

      I’m sorry I swiped your thoughts while you were snoozing dear Jas! 😉 I think you should still write your post though – I love to read your opinions on everything, and a little bit of funny is always good for lifting the gloom. Bring on that post – I want to read it! Normally I don’t get so uptight about the traditional guys insults, but now there’s more than one floating around, and I reckoned that if they could get me down they must be doing a good job on those less thickskinned indies. Now I’m thinking – sticks and stones…. 😀 xxx

      Like

    jgrwriter said:
    October 9, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Heartfelt post. It’s always easy for people to criticize others, but then you have to consider their motives in doing so. Unhappy individuals or those that are unsatisfied with their own lives seek out ways to crush the dreams of others. No matter what, don’t let them. Never let anyone make you doubt what you know to be true. Stay focused and true to yourself.

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 10, 2013 at 3:32 am

      Thank you Janice! Your advice is inspiring. And you’re right too – it’s probably best to ignore people who aim to hurt like this. For a while there I really did feel that a couple of years of really hard work was maybe just dream dust blowing in the wind. Thanks again, and thanks also for sharing. xx

      Like

    jgrwriter said:
    October 9, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Reblogged this on jgrwriter and commented:
    This post is heartfelt and worth sharing.

    Like

    LucyPireel said:
    October 9, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    And right you are Jo my Dearie! You said exactly what I was thinking, it does seem to work that way. People flock together to ‘celebrate’ their misery and feel they are not alone, I guess. You put it very wise and balanced, but then again you have a knack for that, even though you think you can te a tool sometimes, know that if you are, you are a dang fine tool, one everyone should have banging about.

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 10, 2013 at 3:28 am

      Ha haaaa! I can’t deny being a tool – always got my foot in my mouth. 😀 What I meant is that maybe sadness can be “contagious” – like even if you don’t know why you’re blue, you find that the world around you is blue too. Aaaarh – hard to explain myself now. 😀 xxx

      Like

        LucyPireel said:
        October 10, 2013 at 10:42 am

        No need to explain Jo dearie, I know exactly what you mean. 🙂
        xoxo

        Like

          jorobinson176 responded:
          October 18, 2013 at 6:50 pm

          You always do my lovely friend. 🙂 xxxxxx

          Like

            LucyPireel said:
            October 18, 2013 at 10:13 pm

            I keep thinking we must be soul sisters or long lost twins. 🙂 xoxo

            Like

              jorobinson176 responded:
              October 23, 2013 at 2:17 pm

              We are kindred dear Lucy – soul sisters can be much closer than blood, and friendships to be cherished for ever. 😀 xxx

              Like

                LucyPireel said:
                October 23, 2013 at 2:59 pm

                Hear, hear! Jo my Dearie, and it shows that friendship isn’t restricted to those who live on the same continent.
                xoxo 🙂

                Like

    Lawrence Grodecki said:
    October 9, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Someone should inform the Vatican about the demons of self-publishing.

    As for me, I fight my October depression with thoughts of joy, as by the end of the month once more I get await the coming of The Great Pumpkin . . . would Charles Shulz be considered to be an indie author?

    http://bit.ly/15ViesE

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 10, 2013 at 3:21 am

      Love Charley Brown! Young Shulz would go indie for sure – he’s an independent kind of little guy I reckon. Now you’ve got me properly focused on pumpkin pie and excessive sweet eating – LOL! 😀

      Like

        Lawrence Grodecki said:
        October 10, 2013 at 3:35 am

        But isn’t chocolate the cure for everything? 🙂

        Like

          jorobinson176 responded:
          October 10, 2013 at 3:38 am

          A man after my own heart! The cure and the future inspiration to find out how to exceed the speed of light. 😀

          Like

            Lawrence Grodecki said:
            October 10, 2013 at 4:14 am

            Ha! I see grasshopper wishes to stump the master! To simply exceed the speed of light one must simply be completely still.

            At least that’s what I read in my chocolate-coated fortune cookie – and dammit, I only went inside to look for more chocolate!

            Like

              jorobinson176 responded:
              October 18, 2013 at 6:53 pm

              Grasshopper has decided to shop for shoes instead – LOL! That’s totally brilliant though Lawrence – and my cup of tea as you know. We’re all travelling at the speed of light aren’t we? Genius! That’s why I’m enjoying your book. 🙂

              Like

    Kev said:
    October 13, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Quite in-depth. I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s a shame that such a beautiful season can bring forth feelings of despair. Personally, Autumn for me is a joyful season. I’ve always loved it. But it’s good to be aware that not all is the same for everyone. 🙂

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 18, 2013 at 6:50 pm

      We’re going in to Spring here Kev. I actually love all seasons – the cold for soup and woolly blankies and the warm for getting out their and turning brown. But as this old world gets more manic and fast there really are lots of lovely people that suffer quite a lot. Life can be quite terrifying for a lot of people. Those indie insulters really just show how little they know though. Sticks and stones I reckon…

      Like

        Kev said:
        October 19, 2013 at 8:32 pm

        It’s hard to believe how different it is in other parts of the world sometimes even though I have been around a bit myself. 🙂

        Like

          jorobinson176 responded:
          October 23, 2013 at 2:15 pm

          I reckon I’d be right at home in the States or the UK though – watch too much TV. 😀

          Like

    Donicia said:
    October 17, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Very inspiring post!

    Like

    Lawrence Grodecki said:
    October 19, 2013 at 5:43 am

    Boy, now I’m lost for words…thank you Jo.

    Like

    LMK66 said:
    November 2, 2013 at 4:32 am

    I do think you put words together well. That being said, please do some research before commenting on a subject so sensitive as mental health issues. Depression is not simply an extension of the blues. It is a medical condition. (Yes you hinted ever so slightly at this.) If you broke your arm your would seek a medical doctor to care for it. Depression is a medical condition, a chemical imbalance in the brain. There are tons of websites dedicated to bringing awareness to Mental Health, please explore. NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) is just one.

    Like

    LMK66 said:
    November 2, 2013 at 4:34 am

    I would like to add. I did enjoy the rest of your column. I think it should have been two separate columns.

    Like

    jorobinson176 responded:
    November 2, 2013 at 4:52 am

    Thanks so much for your kind comments LMK66. I wouldn’t be comfortable writing a post about the actual medical condition – mainly because it’s a condition that I have, along with fairly extreme anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and all the horrible physical and mental symptoms that go with these things. Because I regularly communicate with other sufferers I’m aware of what a sensitive subject it is, and also how a seemingly innocent remark can trigger all sorts of things in us, I purposely chose to talk about the kind of depression that most people understand and not the terrible kind that a portion of people suffer. Thanks again so much for your thoughtful remarks. 🙂

    Like

    ghostbusterbev said:
    November 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Good advice Jo! Not to mention the fact that the big publishing houses l keep you dangling sometimes for a year or more before getting back to you on that “promising” manuscript…and their editors are too busy to answer phone calls or emails in the meantime. Self-publishing is looking more appealing by the minute! I am seriously considering it for my next book.

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      November 3, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      Thanks Bev! I’ve read some really scary stories about publishers, and with so many of the traditionally published guys changing to self-publishing it must be a good thing. Lots less stressful too!

      Like

    Hmmm…. | Jo Robinson said:
    November 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    […] anyway. Back to the subject at hand. A comment on my Yacking It Up post really made me take ten steps back and take notice. I mentioned depression in the post, but I […]

    Like

    angus48 said:
    November 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Thanks for this post Jo. I think I’ve shared with you my experiences and now I’m back to self-pub to stay I think. It would take tremendous convincing and the planet title signed over to me before I would consider attempting it again. At least I’m back to my time table after a seven months of stall out.

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      November 3, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      Cool that you’re back to your time table Angus! Self-pub is the way for me I reckon. You do all the work yourself anyway and you in particular get to go to cool book signings and conventions, so you’ll get the planet deeds some day anyway. 😀

      Like

    diannej65 said:
    November 3, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Jo, this post is wonderful. You’re right of course about authors being a ‘funny lot’. How can you write about sorrow, trauma, joy, or whatever emotion, if you haven’t experienced it? People who have never suffered, for a day, a month, a year, are hiding themselves away from the reality that is life. We are sentient beings. With that blessing comes the ability FEEL and the responsibility to do so.
    As for the ridiculous review comments, I feel sorry for him. He must be a quite bitter man to deny anyone the opportunity to fulfil their dreams and Amazon are helping people do just that. I have read some dross in my time. Books produced by ‘proper’ publishers. Even some of the so called classics are poorly written and I’m sure they are classics because, like with the Emerors New Clothes, no body dare say otherwise.
    So please take heart and don’t let the bitter people who envy your success upset you.
    Much love and respect
    Di

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      November 3, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      Thank you Di! And you’re right about traditionally published dross too. Lots of it is not worth reading. Gordon Ramsay’s memoir actually had his name wrong. Thank you so much for your lovely kind words. xxxxxxxx

      Like

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