1. If I had a multi-platform media company–which was successful and able to take risks–I’d seek to hire you. For various assignments, including those of your choice. I wonder how much you’d have to be paid for submitting to editing? For that would be part of the contract.


    1. Jeff:

      Yes, but that’s precisely the point: I wouldn’t submit to the “editing” because then it would no longer be the piece I had intended to make. In which case: why make it?

      I already submit to “editing,” from people who don’t really understand what they want, or what the medium demands or deserves, in the field of commercial music.

      Making incidental money for an already-completed artifact is fine… that is always a happy accident… but working for hire is usually Death to Art. I do it with Music… but not so often that it chokes the Muse (though that has come close to happening; I was fed up c. 2009: the banality! The unreflected contempt the producers have for the target audience!).

      Now, for the song I co-wrote, which ended up in a global ad campaign for a familiar brand (you’ve probably used the product; you may even have heard the tune… there are still fan-made tributes to it on YouTube, incredibly), I earned a little more than €30K ( radio/ TV airplay royalties) for what was, at most, three or four hours of aggregate effort (spread over a period of a working week). (now you know my price, Jeff! Got 30k for an hour of work? If not…. I’m back to paring my nails).

      I could have completed the job in forty minutes (it was doggerel), but there were the ins and outs of the politics of dealing with random (egocentric) inputs from A) co-writer B) producer C) ad agency and D) brand. Which is the nonsense I endure to earn money to pay for the time I need for my Actual Art (Writing post-postmod Litracha!). But, as you can see, the craft I chose to prostitute myself in buys me vast amounts of “free” (I’m a full time husband and dad, too) time. That was the plan.

      No Mainstream publisher, in this era, would take on any of my novels as they are, and I’d rather not-write than write falsely (aka pandering to the LCD). Most novels out now read, at best, like precocious YA. Very poor. Insufficient density of elements… they’re just Paper Television for a debased readership, largely. Gak.

      My novels are crafty and they are True and I am happy! Whole chunks of the cluster of the group of novels I started five years ago are gradually coming in (“This Incredible Sex Comedy” came in a few months ago and “Jesus in Vegas” came in soon after and “Germantown” is probably six months out; ditto “Kootchie Towers”).

      I know far too many people in Music, Publishing and Big Ticket High End Art (I cut my teeth in the world of the latter in the 1980s, when I was still in my twenties, when a very powerful woman in that realm tried to make me her boytoy… I’ll link to that story later)… there is no Media Mystique, for me. Most of these professionals are not super bright, not particularly talented, and only where they are because they’re good at arse-slurpping and/or born into a demographic with access.

      NB: I wouldn’t mind taking on the “input” from a bona fide genius, but where do you find one of those these days?

      I’ll settle for editing myself… or doing the occasional musical work-for-hire, for people who pay good money to act like they know what they’re doing (speaking of which, I could tell you a story about a Major Label, on that topic, that would curl your toes… the magnitude of the ungreased ball they fumbled was Biblical!)

      Well, it’s all very Miltonian, Jeff, isn’t it? Except the setting (contra prevailing propaganda) is Heaven; it was Purgatory that I cast myself out from, headlong, to land in a nice big slice of Bohemian cake. Here in the sultry, palm-treed islands of the Baltic…

      But lets talk about YOU, Jeff. Stop trying to butter me up, chum. I’m just as devious as you are, when I need to be. Luckily, those situations are quite rare.

      (And, yes, you are commenting the hell out of my site, Jeff; most of my steady readers send me emails; my site is THAT naughty! But I answer those emails because I trust them… so don’t get any ideas… )


  2. You don’t trust me, Steven? In the back-and-forth on these websites untrustworthiness is understood on both sides, and I suppose that’s why strangers morosely click and skim, hoping for a glimmer of truth. So if I send you emails instead, you will reply if you think they’re in good faith? But to my point: see the review of Vollmann’s latest. Is he not a guy who needs editing? https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/06/books/review/william-t-vollmann-carbon-ideologies-no-immediate-danger-no-good-alternative.html


    1. Jeff!

      I don’t trust you because you’ve already tried an underhanded maneuver on me (encouraged to, perhaps, by your default position of imaginary superiority: laugh). It’s that “Winning is Everything and Cheating to Win is Even Better” ethos I know so well! I always give everyone a little more than half a chance to (apparently) prove themselves. Didn’t you notice how relatively gracious I was before you betrayed our precious trust? (chuckle)

      In any case: no biggie! Plus: we’re coming from such Ideologically Polar Distances… what’s the point? Neither of us will change (nor be changed by the other). We are but POVs passing like scows in the night…

      Vollmann I’m not a huge fan of (though, possibly, his prose has gotten a little more lithe over the years). Editors are a luxury the Big Ticket Writer may use as a (n ostentatious) crutch; the more the crutch is used, the more it becomes a requirement, eh?


  3. ….At any rate I can’t find your email address on your site. Send it to me thru mine?

    The NYTBR review of Vollmann quotes him as stiffing his editors and refusing to cut his words down, even though he had contracted to do so. Vollmann the modern novelist seems to get away with having his cake (the mainstream) and eating it too. You’re just as talented. But the politics?

    Pls publish my last comment on our other thread, which you ought to trust for its sincerity. I won’t keep trying to side my oyster knife into your shell, I promise.


    1. Jeff:

      Yipes. The last line of this last message was disgusting! Shudder

      Erm: re the other thread and the limbo’d comment: re-write it so that it’s much shorter and I may well publish it (wink). That thread is hideously long as it is, and we COULD go ’round and ’round forever. Edit the comment to a nice little bite and I’ll probably let it through, respond with a final bite of my own, and let the thread be.

      Re: editing/ Vollmann: this is what I mean…

      I started my Writing Life as a Poet. If you have the time, read a bit of the following excerpt, and, whether or not the excerpt is to your taste, if you’re being honest, you’ll have to admit that not a word is out of place. I still catch typos in these things, now and then, but the texts are tight as a sheet of metal; wherever you might, conceivably, replace a bit, the change would either be apples-or-oranges, or wrong. Well I’ve learned my compression/ concision haven’t I? Took long enough.



      1. Thank you, will read this with interest. “If you’re being honest, you’ll have to admit”–maybe we can get past that sort of defensiveness, though the format doesn’t want us to.

        I thought I had typed “slide” my oyster knife, admittedly no less aggressive an image. Since you don’t like oysters, the metaphor must have been doubly distasteful, But everyone’s got a shell.


        1. Jeff:

          You’ve got to get past the tendency to spin everything so self-servingly. We started this conversation/ debate as ideological combatants, which means that the normal parameters of polite chit chat don’t apply. The flawed presumption you were working from, from the beginning, was that there is something more serious/ worthy about texts that are paper-published for money. I consider that attitude to sag on the side of bourgeois Philistinism because The Words are All That Count. Cover Art, blurbs from celebs, laudatory reviews from established propaganda organs: all these Tribal Jujus may dazzle the average Babbitt (hoary callback to Mr. Lewis!), but no skilled and serious reader will be gulled by any of those marketing gambits. Especially now, when Lit Crit Chit Chat is all just obvious shilling and Big Media itself is in nothing but the business of shilling for the bloody, Neo-Liberal, post-Spartan mindset.

          When you first came at me (as so many have) with Johnson’s fraying put-down, I knew where you were coming from. I am now involved in the process of correcting your smug misapprehension, Jeff. I am acting as (post postmod) Literature’s advocate and making sure to remind you that A) The Words Are All That Count and B) Money is not an Aesthetic Value.

          Samuel Johnson’s “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money,” becomes decreasingly barbed and pithy the further one drags it from the 18th century and it is too often separated from Boswell’s immediate rejoinder that “Numerous instances to refute this will occur to all who are versed in the history of literature.” It is symptomatic of the age that the overwhelming majority of the people who use that Johnson quote, as a cudgel, haven’t even read the book it’s lifted from!

          Well, I’m helping you with all that, Jeff! Consider me a reluctant Chingachgook (as colonial a riff as I am willing to joke with, here), guiding you through the woods (which double as Dante’s) of Aesthetic Practise.


          1. And so ends* the highly peculiar saga of when Jeffy W. commented the hell out of this site, across the comment threads of two unrelated pieces, after I left a disparaging comment on his article at The American Scholar. From August 8 until August 13, Jeff was over here, in enemy territory, commenting his heart out, like a Janus-faced trickster: bitch & cajole, bitch & cajole, bitch and cajole and bitch. Five days of it! Pfew. Well, I’m not claiming it wasn’t fun or funny.

            Jeff tried to leave one last (again; AGAIN) little bundle of bitchy stingers this afternoon, and tried to playground-psychology me into publishing them, with the good old, “I’ll bet you won’t post this…” routine. Jeffy, Jeffy… ! Whenever someone prefaces a comment with that gag, I simply don’t post the comment, on principle! Smirk.

            I will leave us all with this final non sequitur from Jeff W.:

            “I’m wondering if Boswell is related to Richard Cummings.” (ouch!)

            Suggestion to Jeff: why not read a little Boswell and find out…? (As if, right? Who can Jeff find to pay Jeff to read Boswell…? Jeff is a pro, after all….)

            And now we resume our regularly scheduled programming…


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