Some of you might remember Chuck Wendig, the author who got the job (and the hype around) writing the novelizations for the rebooted Star Wars.
I don’t know what his precise major dysfunction is, but people assure me he could write before that job. Perhaps, like many other writers before him, he thought write-for-hire was beneath his dignity and sabotaged his own work because “those fools will read anything.” (For the record, and anyone reading this, I don’t care how exalted and artistic you think you are or how much you detest “selling out.” If you’re given a job and accept it you do it, with all you got and to the best of your ability. In the early oughts, I did a bunch of work for hire. Not media and most of it stuff I can’t talk about because it was ghostwriting for successful authors who had hit a bad health patch or something. Was all of it what I wanted to be writing then? None of it was. But sons needed shoes and books, and I was paid. I did my best to give value for value.)
Anyway, his first Star Wars book became an internet sensation overnight, in the way all of us who labor in words hope and very much pray that none of our books become a sensation.
There is a reason the fans were mad. Go ahead, read the sample. I dare you.
Chuck Wendig reacted badly to it then. One of my friends wrote about it. Note what my friend, Cedar Sanderson, says about being a writer, and a writer’s duty to his fans:
But as an author, we cannot expect our readers to put up with the egregious errors we perpetrate when we are told repeatedly of those errors. If the readers don’t like how your story is written, don’t double down and say that the readers are wrong. Don’t try to blame the readers for your failings by telling them that they aren’t smart enough, hip enough, or… something… to understand and appreciate your work. That isn’t how this works. That’s not how any of this works.
Cedar is right. As a writer, your job is to write books that sell. You’re a small entrepreneur artisan — no more. no less. You create your product and take it to market, and you hope it sells.
I realize Chuck Wendig came up through traditional publishing (as I did), which obscures the relationship of the writer to the ultimate consumer, the reader. First, you had to sell to the publisher, whose demands were often quite at cross purposes with those of the ultimate reader. Sometimes — often — the decisions the publisher makes or doesn’t make mean your book will or won’t sell regardless of quality. That’s just how the system works. (And also that you’ll get blamed for it because in tradpub it’s always the writer’s fault.)
However, beyond the fact that there is indie and indie is growing now, only a fool or a self-satisfied lunatic pays no attention to the cries of the fans.
Of course, Chuck has Liberal Privilege, which means he could eat a screaming baby on camera, and the publishers/Disney would still throw him more money for his next book.
Liberal Privilege is a terrible thing because it blinds the writers — and publishers — giving them illusions such as “we’re here to educate” and “our job is to make sure the public reads things that will make it better.” These are not Wendig quotes, but they’re quotes I’ve heard from publishers and editors working the old system. Most of these editors and publishers took their house or magazine down in flames. Because in the end what they sell is a commodity, and you can’t sell your product if you insult the consumer.
From the linked article:
Ever since Disney and Lucasfilm released Star Wars: The Last Jedi and a number of fans appropriately criticized the Rian Johnson story, media outlets and creators can’t stop talking about the “toxic” element of Star Wars fandom. Instead of looking at the criticism and interacting with fans in positive manner, they’ve begun attacking them and hurling insults left and right. Anyone who has been following the world of comics in recent years has seen this all too well, but it’s now bleeding over into Star Wars.
The writer is only wrong in one thing: the insults are only hurled RIGHT because most of these creators are standing, metaphorically, on the left pole of the universe.
If you click the link, you’ll see the Chuck Wendig is making mouth noises (or rather Twitter noises, which are usually more like flatulence) about the same old same old.
The movies (and his book) aren’t doing well? Well, it must be because the audience is racist/sexist/homophobic/double plus ungood.
Third, it’s what’s at the heard of ALL this weaponized aerosolized horseshit — it’s sexism and racism. It’s sphincter-stung white dudes who are so tender, so brittle, they cannot hack that the world is now only 90% about them instead of 95%.
Their names change — MRA, incel, gamer-gate, comics-gate, sad puppies, Real Star Wars fans — but at the heart of it is the same fragile rage born of the poisonous chemical combination of white supremacy and toxic masculinity.
One can only shake one’s head at the toxic white liberal dude tweeting this. Both at the fact he doesn’t seem aware he’s white and male, and at the fact that he knows clear nothing on stilts about the people he is maligning or about the state of his own industry.
I mean, leave aside the fact the man is white and male. I was a member of one of the movements referenced, Sad Puppies, trying to reform awards in science fiction and preventing them from being either a log-rolling show, or given to those people that someone thought were “literary” or “prestige” because we’re science fiction, and we think we should be entertaining first.
Sad Puppies at its core were: a Latin male who is a bestseller (Larry Correia, with his Monster Hunter International series, and a lot of other good stuff you should be reading); a white male in an interracial marriage (Brad Torgersen, author of The Chaplain’s War and a regular at Analog. You should also read him. He has more novels coming out soon); a bunch of women: me (according to the State department a Latin female, first-generation immigrant from Portugal and a mid-list writer [oh, go ahead and read Darkship Thieves]), my friend Amanda Green, an indie writer (read her books under Sam Schall if you like Mil SF), and my friend Kate Paulk, also an indie writer (her ConVent fantasies will be back online really soon).
Opposing us were a lot of writers who work for Patrick Nielsen Hayden at TOR and frankly, the editor himself and all his contacts and might.
So, somehow, a group where only one man can be classified as white (and his wife is black) and which is half female is about rage and toxic masculinity and protecting our… privilege? None of us but Larry even have any success worth writing home about, and what is our privilege? Writing for a living?
Meanwhile, the group that is trying to keep on giving all awards to its in-group are the ones Chuck (Cheesy) Wendigo thinks are the pure fighters for good. Yeah, we’re going to have lots of respect for his claims.
As for the other groups, “incel” seems to be an invention of the left. And my sons — who are much more plugged into the gaming scene — were on the side of GamersGate. Other than that, I know nothing.
However, knowing what he’s saying about the thing I was involved in, this seems to me to be old Chuckie trying to keep his liberal privilege going, even while the readers tell him they’ve had enough of being force-fed that type of pap.
You see, not that long ago, about a dozen years, the readers had no choice but to buy what the publishers pushed and anointed. If you wanted to read, you read what came through the system.
You didn’t have anywhere visible to complain about books you didn’t like or movies that you felt betrayed you. Sure, photocopied newsletters, and then email groups. But those were easy to ignore, just like the falling numbers on books were easy to ignore. Publishing was protected by the fact it was the only game in town, and movies made – and make – a lot of their money from home rentals and foreign sales.
Now that the audience has a voice, they’re speaking.
People like Cheesy Chuck Wendig are most affected. And they can’t think their way out of this predicament (or a paper bag). You see they’ve been told so long that they’re the anointed ones, the special ones, and their job is to educate and improve the audience, that they can’t believe it’s not true.
So if they’re not successful it must be a plot of … someone. Kulaks, hoarders, wreckers.
Every time the collectivists lose control, it can’t be that they do an incredibly sh*tty job and the public at large disapproves of it. No. They must conjure up enemies to attack. And it’s always the same old enemy: White males. Oh, and “racist, sexist, homophobic.”
Even if Chuck’s ideas were true instead of fever-spun hallucinations, he’d still be wrong. Even if he wrote to change the audience, he’d still be wrong.
The way to make money from writing is to write for the audience that exists. The way to “educate” the audience is to make your books so enormously interesting that people see a new viewpoint without trying.
The problem for Wendig, of course, is that his point of view is not new. It is the same pap people have been fed everywhere, including public school, for forty years.
And that’s the problem of all these media, which keeps sparking all these revolts of consumers.
No, we’re not rebelling because we see “white men” losing their power. When I came into SF as a writer, most creators, editors, and gatekeepers were already female. (Also why would I want to not be able to write? Never mind.)
What the public is rebelling against is the boring experience of having talking points they heard since kindergarten shoved at them again and again, and, to make it worse, with a smug condescension that implies the public has never heard them and that if the public rejects them it’s the public’s fault.
What the public is rebelling against is the left-lock on communications that’s been a fact for almost a hundred years.
The solution, curiously enough, is not to call the readers names, or make up motives for the readers, or invent links between independent movements with completely different starts and agendas.
The solution, in the end, is to write for the public. Make it enormously entertaining and they’ll line up to give you money.
Shut up and write, Chuckie.