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View Full Version : A Video Message from Harlan Ellison



William Haskins
02-01-2008, 02:38 AM
http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/01/i-sell-my-soul.html

wise words indeed.

William Haskins
02-01-2008, 04:22 AM
well, given that it's a video message, audio is pretty much implied, so i won't take responsibility for your speaker situation.

furthermore, i just opened the link in both firefox and explorer and there are no inherent popups at andrew sullivan's blog, which is hosted by 'the atlantic'.

this indicates to me that your system is infected with adware and/or malware.

i take no responsibility for your surfing habits.

in the future, perhaps it would be prudent to just not follow any links.

clockwork
02-01-2008, 04:35 AM
Jeez... why isn't Ellison president of the WGA? "Pay me, motherfucker!"


I got no pop-ups, Firefox jumped right in and snagged 'em.

rugcat
02-01-2008, 05:01 AM
I got no popups (Firefox is your friend)

I was talking to a group of booksellers and SF/F writers the other day, and they all agreed that the most frightening aspect of any SF/F con was the possibility of being trapped in an elevator with Harlan Ellison.

Apparently it once happened.

William Haskins
02-01-2008, 06:08 AM
re: your comment above and the rep comment about "posting in the proper venue" and "no one taking me seriously".

on the former, i'll post where i want. if a mod thinks that it's the wrong place, they can move it, but i'll be damned if i'm going to be guided in my use of the forums by anyone else.

as far as taking me seriously goes, i'm sure you can guess how much i care.

Perks
02-01-2008, 06:17 AM
Anyway, as far as the interview goes, I can see where Ellison might be a bit intense, but he certainly makes a point with righteous indignation. I'm so tired of politicians, I really liked his tirade.

It would be better than being stuck in an elevator with a nose-picker.

P.S. I didn't get any pop-ups either.

robeiae
02-01-2008, 06:19 AM
It would be better than being stuck in an elevator with a nose-picker.
Yes, but sometimes RT has donuts, too.

Perks
02-01-2008, 06:20 AM
Would that be RT as in RumpleTumbler or RollingThunder? You and your damned letters.

SpookyWriter
02-01-2008, 06:22 AM
Ellison has won ten Hugo Awards (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Award), four Nebula Awards (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebula_Award), and five Bram Stoker Awards (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bram_Stoker_Award) (presented by the Horror Writers Association) including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996.
He has also been honored with the Edgar Award (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Award) by the Mystery Writers of America (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mystery_Writers_of_America) twice, the Georges Méliès (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_M%C3%A9li%C3%A8s) fantasy film (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantasy_film) award twice, and the Silver Pen for Journalism by International PEN (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_PEN), the international writers' union. He was presented with the first Living Legend Award by the International Horror Guild at the 1995 World Horror Convention (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Horror_Convention). He is also the only author in Hollywood ever to win the Writers Guild of America (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writers_Guild_of_America) Award for Most Outstanding Teleplay (solo work) four times, most recently for "Paladin of the Lost Hour (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paladin_of_the_Lost_Hour)" in 1987.

Perks
02-01-2008, 06:25 AM
Why am I not even a tiny bit tempted to click Spooky's links?

It's a trap. Get an axe.

robeiae
02-01-2008, 06:27 AM
Would that be RT as in RumpleTumbler or RollingThunder?
Hmmm...I don't think it matters, Pk.

Perks
02-01-2008, 06:32 AM
I didn't get my pop-ups with the last dose of Ellison. All's well.

William Haskins
02-01-2008, 06:42 AM
i posted it for ellison's later comments, regarding how amateurs and semi-pros actually do themselves a disservice, in addition to writers in general, by giving away commercial writing. it contributes to the notion that "anyone can do it" and it proliferates, especially on the web, diminishing the market that we need to thrive.

ultimately, he's saying to see the value in yourself and don't trade your talents for promises of seeing your name in print and vague allusions to PR.

that's it.

now i'm sorry i posted the goddamn thing.

and, spooky, i would never share the contents of a private message, but when you rep me to explain what was really stuck in your craw while publicly warning other people away from the thread because you had to click little x's on 2 inter-site popups, that's bullshit.

you more or less called me out and i'm setting the record straight on why you really chose to derail the thread.

especially ironic because you're supposedly this big, bad IT motherfucker, and yet somehow you haven't grasped the concept of a popup blocker.

so, in summation, ignore this thread.

hopefully, a mod will slap a lock on it and put it out of its fucking misery.

as far as i'm concerned, the whole world can go to hell.

jst5150
02-01-2008, 06:46 AM
FYI, this topic and video are here:

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=84980

William Haskins
02-01-2008, 06:47 AM
well, there ya go.

my deepest apologies to everyone for the inconvenience.

Perks
02-01-2008, 06:49 AM
ultimately, he's saying to see the value in yourself and don't trade your talents for promises of seeing your name in print and vague allusions to PR.

I'm sorry it got derailed.

What I found interesting, and a warning that should bold and underline what you wrote above, was that some little PR lackey would think it appropriate to offer 'free publicity' to Harlan Ellison.

If that doesn't prove his point, and yours, I don't know what else would.

rugcat
02-01-2008, 06:59 AM
Ellison has won ten Hugo Awards (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Award), four Nebula Awards (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebula_Award), and five Bram Stoker Awards (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bram_Stoker_Award) (presented by the Horror Writers Association) including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996.
He has also been honored with the Edgar Award (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Award) by the Mystery Writers of America (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mystery_Writers_of_America) twice, the Georges Méliès (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_M%C3%A9li%C3%A8s) fantasy film (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantasy_film) award twice, and the Silver Pen for Journalism by International PEN (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_PEN), the international writers' union. He was presented with the first Living Legend Award by the International Horror Guild at the 1995 World Horror Convention (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Horror_Convention). He is also the only author in Hollywood ever to win the Writers Guild of America (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writers_Guild_of_America) Award for Most Outstanding Teleplay (solo work) four times, most recently for "Paladin of the Lost Hour (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paladin_of_the_Lost_Hour)" in 1987.

Harlan Ellison is a brilliant writer. He is also famous for his . . .interpersonal skill set.

I copied the link and sent it to a couple of people who have dealt with him in person and who I thought would be amused by it. As far as the substance of his words goes, he's right on, of course.

Bravo
02-01-2008, 08:12 AM
You posted a link. We're supposed to follow along without any guidance toward the subject matter. I don't recall reading a prologue to the original piece.

the funny thing is, spooky, that's all haskins has to do to create more worthwhile threads than you.

in fact, this one thread is probably worth more than all of your "my nuts are freezing" topics combined.

Silver King
02-01-2008, 08:59 AM
I think we can move forward without the personal insults. In fact, I know we can.

akiwiguy
02-01-2008, 10:28 AM
i posted it for ellison's later comments, regarding how amateurs and semi-pros actually do themselves a disservice, in addition to writers in general, by giving away commercial writing. it contributes to the notion that "anyone can do it" and it proliferates, especially on the web, diminishing the market that we need to thrive.

ultimately, he's saying to see the value in yourself and don't trade your talents for promises of seeing your name in print and vague allusions to PR.


I was having this exact discussion with someone recently. It makes my blood boil when I see ads for "Non-paying markets". Read that as "sweat your guts out to set up my business for me for free." It is a joke. I pay my doctor, I pay my plumber, I pay every prick under the sun. Why the hell do people devalue themselves to the extent of grovelling around at the bottom of that shit heap? To me, my skills are either not good enough, or good enough to pay for. And I don't need someone else's two cents worth of flattery to help me make that assessment. Because that's about the value of the PR you'd get in return, if that.

Gravity
02-01-2008, 04:45 PM
I gotta agree with Harlan (one of my favorite writers, by the bye). I don't blame him a whit for being pissed. He's saying something I've thought for years: namely, amateurs will be the ruination of writing. Between PA's "one dollar advance", and online mags grudgingly paying out a penny a word, most writers would be better off setting up a cot with a cigar box next to it in a Bangkok whorehouse. The principal's the same, and the money's more enjoyably earned.

NeuroFizz
02-01-2008, 04:56 PM
I didn't catch this on the earlier thread, so I appreciate it being posted again. His are words are clear--words every writer should hear and hold dear. We new and developing writers are so hungry for attention, we are like those people at the ends of the aisles in Sam's Club--giving away samples of our professional products, hoping someone will buy more. Trouble is, there are too many people in the store who are only interested in filling their stomachs on our offerings as they head through to buy their bale of toilet paper.

CaroGirl
02-01-2008, 05:37 PM
I agree with him. Why do writers feel like they have to snivel and grovel for every bit of publicity they get? Why to we feel like we have to give our work away to be noticed?

His attitude might be different if he were the 20-year-old college graduate who'd just finished his first novel and couldn't find a publisher to save his life. But he's still right.

Bartholomew
02-01-2008, 06:46 PM
He's a pissant, but he's right.

The man in the video, not Haskins.

Perks
02-01-2008, 06:49 PM
He's a pissant, but he's right.

Bart, do you know what 'pissant' means? It's sort of difficult to dismiss Harlan Ellison as insignificant.

Jcomp
02-01-2008, 07:05 PM
I agree to an extent, but, if you do it right and hustle right, free publicity can go a long way towards getting you paid very well for the work you do. It's simple self-promotion, and it can work. And if you're solely in it for the love and don't want to make loot, I see no problem with that really, so long as you're not expecting other people to feel the same way, which I think is where Harlan's beef stems from.

Hobbes
02-01-2008, 07:11 PM
I am so glad you posted this. What a great point he makes about writers needing to get paid. Pretty relevent with the writer's strike going on as well. The movie companies just want writer's to write and be happy with having their name in the credits.

Go Harlan! Tell it like it is!

Hobbes
02-01-2008, 07:15 PM
Harlan makes his living as a writer, it's how he pays his bills. I think what he's really upset about are the "hobby" writers, the amateurs who drown the market with so-so writing--for free-- just to see their names in print.

True, free publicity is great and usuable, but the publicity should be something like an interview, a signing or a reading. Not just free material.

Perks
02-01-2008, 07:17 PM
Harlan makes his living as a writer, it's how he pays his bills. I think what he's really upset about are the "hobby" writers, the amateurs who drown the market with so-so writing--for free-- just to see their names in print.
Naming the pain is a good thing. It's a warning and an indictment.

brokenfingers
02-01-2008, 07:28 PM
I like this guy.

Cranky
02-01-2008, 08:06 PM
I've seen this video before, but I still think it's right on. I am, of course, just another of the unwashed masses myself, but: I can't really see the point of busting my hump and not getting paid for it.

An interesting rant from a very interesting guy, to say the least.

Jcomp
02-01-2008, 08:16 PM
Harlan makes his living as a writer, it's how he pays his bills. I think what he's really upset about are the "hobby" writers, the amateurs who drown the market with so-so writing--for free-- just to see their names in print.

True, free publicity is great and usuable, but the publicity should be something like an interview, a signing or a reading. Not just free material.

I dunno. I guess my ventures into music give me a different perspective. I suppose I don't see what market is exactly being drowned as far as writing goes. I know that as a discerning reader, if I see junk, even if it's free, I'm not reading it up just based on, "well it's free, and their heart's in the right place, so it's all well and good." Again, so long as that person writing for free isn't trying to push the "don't get paid for making art" agenda on everyone else (I know people like that, and those folks annoy the bright blue hell out of me), I don't really see a beef. The only way I can see amateurs writing for free being that detrimental to the market is if they actually wrote something really good.

akiwiguy
02-02-2008, 12:02 AM
I agree to an extent, but, if you do it right and hustle right, free publicity can go a long way towards getting you paid very well for the work you do. It's simple self-promotion, and it can work. And if you're solely in it for the love and don't want to make loot, I see no problem with that really, so long as you're not expecting other people to feel the same way, which I think is where Harlan's beef stems from.

You're right when you say "do it well". Even Ellison's own blog is a form of self-promotion. That makes normal business sense, but I suspect there are are good and bad strategies for promoting one self.

My beef is with what seems to be almost an assumption on the part of many, that writers should be so desperate for recognition that they'll queue up to give away their time and effort. The web is a big place, and is now teeming with free writing, and I think that adding to that simply relegates one to an anoymous mass. And provides traffic for someone else's web site, someone who gives not a blind shit who I am or where I'm going.

I will never forget a job interview (successful) that I had for a computer programming position, and after working in other areas of IT it was my first shot at a programming job as such. At a given point the guy asked what salary I was after, standard stuff, but because I was on slightly unfamiliar ground I hestitated. Then he said what I thought was one of the more unusual things I've ever heard at an interview. "I'll give you a hint, people tend to forever value us the way they see us first valuing ourselves."

And in life I see that principle played out again and again. Pitching yourself low with the assumption that once you've proven yourself you'll be promoted in actual fact tends more often than not to backfire. It will be some other sod who brazenly marches in and aims high who steals the march. And although one I guess has to be realistic in trying to break into the writers' market, one still has to have some sense of their own value and be able to assess the benefits of making a given decision.

And I do agree that sometimes we work for the love. I have friends whom I quite often flick short stories which no one else will ever read. They enjoy them, and I enjoy the fact that they enjoy them. But that's quite a different thing to investing hundreds of hours on entertaining people who I'm never going to know, and who quite frankly are never going to give me another thought once they've finished reading my work. I don't think it's a good investment of time.

Shadow_Ferret
02-02-2008, 02:50 AM
"There's no publicity value, the only value to me is if you put money in my hand." Truer words were never spoken.

"I don't take a piss without getting paid for it." One day I hope to reach that point.

JeanneTGC
02-02-2008, 08:58 AM
I had the pleasure of meeting Ben Bova in person and getting to spend some time with him. In the course of our time together, I got to ask him a lot of questions about the writing profession. One of those was in regards to self-publishing, and, by extent, non-paying markets.

I'd barely gotten the phrase out when Mr. Bova looked right into my eyes and said, in a tone indicating I'd offered him some warm urine to drink, "Young lady...THEY pay YOU. You do NOT pay THEM."

"Yes, I understand, but the trends today seem to be --"

"YOUNG LADY. THEY pay YOU. You do NOT pay THEM."

As I said then, I still say now, "Yes, sir, 'nuff said."

skelly
02-02-2008, 06:25 PM
I love the way Ellison starts out rational, then devolves into full-blown rant the more he gets wound up. The dude cracks me up. I think he does his self a disservice, though, because as important as the subject is, I'm left wondering who pays Harlan Ellison to take a piss.

triceretops
02-02-2008, 06:58 PM
This is a damn valuable message that every writer should take to heart. This is even more relevant to every publisher on this planet that doesn't pay at least some minimal advance to its authors. There. Is the true crime.

tri