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February 5th, 2008

Anonymous 2: Jeff VanderMeer

The second of yesterday's anonymous posters was Jeff VanderMeer:

I actually do have balls of steel, Ben. I think that's been proven again and again over the years, for better and for worse.

I'm all for an unvarnished view of the writing life, but too often what you do comes across as whining. I went anonymous because you and I have talked about this kind of thing before and I stupidly thought perhaps if it seemed to come from another source, you'd think about the comment differently. I'm also sick of helping someone who seems hell-bent on acting like an amateur career-wise. That this book sold only 167 copies is at least as much your fault as the publisher's, in my opinion, having seen the whole thing play out from the inside out.

Also, personally, I don't need to know, as a reader of your blog, that the book only sold 167 copies or whatever. I already know as a small press book that it probably didn't sell 10,000 copies, ya know? The average small press book is going to sell between 100 and 1,500 copies. I say again that mentioning specific numbers just makes it less likely people will pick up the book. This isn't a diary, ya know. It's read by tons of people.

Here is a question--why do you allow the anonymous option if you're not going to honor it?

And I like your writing a lot. But if you're going to dish it, you've got to be able to take it and not act like a spoiled baby. Waaa. Writing life so hard. Waaa. Only sold 167 copies. Waaa. Fuck you for being a pretentious ass while the rest of us are out here working our butts off in a field the scale of which is getting smaller by the year.

JeffV


This is a real shame, actually. Jeff's been real supportive of me and the book and I wouldn't have got the New York Times Syndicate gig if he hadn't mentioned it on Amazon. That he thinks this is just disappointing, to say the least.

I've emailed him and we've talked a bit, and who knows how things'll stand between us in the future. Enough people have seen this post now that deleting it has no point, which is what I would have done if I'd be round when it first appeared. Might as well let everyone see and say yes, there's a moment, get your little thrill at the drama, and move on. It's life. Next week Geoff Maloney will be back as anonymous poster number one, as the ispn can be traced back up to Queensland, as no doubt more than a few of you have done now. It might not be Maloney, of course, and I'll apologise if it isn't--but past history and all will point a finger.

It shouldn't have to be said, but this is my life, and I run it how I see fit. Last time I checked there wasn't a manual for this writing gig, and if you don't enjoy how I run my side of it, then that is, in all honesty, tough shit. That's not for Jeff. I already told Jeff he should've just emailed me and that it wasn't his life. That's for the other people who think it, as it is never just one. If you're looking for the author who has the shiny corporate face logo of presenting good things and then keeping the details of bad things secret, for whatever reason, then that isn't me, and you ought to adjust your personal opinions. Come the end of my life I might all be sitting down and saying how badly it went, but I will not say, "I should have done more of what I wanted, and less of what was expected."