Thursday, February 8, 2018
PulpRev Is Not Inevitable
Just over a year ago I published on my own website my Seven Traits of the Pulp Revolution, which included this disclaimer: This is my own perspective on the Pulp Revolution. Others with greater claim to the hashtag may have differing opinions.
Now I wish I hadn't.
I'm a natural critic. It runs deep in my temperament to notice problems first. I am also a natural optimist - that is no contradiction - so don't think I'm trying to tear anyone down here. I didn't want to present myself as some sort of King of PulpRev, to smother the creative energy then manifesting, so I presented my points weakly. My seventh Trait of the Pulp Revolution has since been entirely ignored, not even criticized, and I want to bring it to the surface.
7. Pulp Revolution rejects sycophantism and triumphalism
Sycophantism means saying something is good when it isn't. Triumphalism is declaring you have triumphed when you haven't.
PulpRev is, from the mouth of many witnesses, one of the best writing communities online. We don't assault people for bad prose, we don't turn spaces for collaboration into endless ebook shilling, we don't dismiss questions with airy generalities, and we help people sell words and make money.
We've got an in on what could be the biggest case of disruptive innovation the publishing industry has ever seen. The revival of the pre-Modernist spirit of the early pulps, the wide, cheap dissemination of online self-publishing, the self-immolation of traditional publishing houses; not only has Uncle Jeff gifted us a combine, and Grandpa Howard his land, but our competitors are torching their own fields. This is how legends are born.
It is understandable that we would want to crow about our impending triumph at every opportunity. How could we fail? Look at our enemies!
Those people? Those sad, frail Torlocks who've managed to shrink the market and the fandom until the only Hugo winner in the last ten years even remotely recognizable to the average fan is a compromise award from China?
Yeah, they're not our competitors. They ostensibly produce a similar product, sure, but we're not trying to steal their dwindling pool of eyes. We're trying to reach out to the disaffected readers who haven't bought an SF novel since 2007, to the parent who wants to feed their kid's spaceship addiction, to the kid who's got five bucks and an Amazon account. And do you know who they're turning to? Not tradpub.
We're not competing for money. We're competing for time. And you have to spend time to get time. A few of us had a conference call in August, trying to figure out the best way to improve our product, because we care about you, the reader, and we want you to have good things. We figured that increasing output would be our best way of increasing quality, and put together the PulpRev Sampler as a demonstration of our speed.
But we can't get complacent. This little window here, when genre rules the theater yet Star Wars is about to start losing money, won't last forever. We could see a wave of competent writers and filmmakers fill the public consciousness, maybe even on the level of, say, the Larry Niven years, and see an SFF renaissance come from somewhere we didn't expect, but it's more than likely the pulp spirit won't come back with it.
We are guardians of this precious, sacred fire, and it is our duty to see that it is fed. We could very easily lose this, until it becomes a phase we think about when we watch someone else's movie, read someone else's comic book, when we sit in the living room and fondly remember when we thought PulpRev was taking over.
We can't let that happen.
Don't let your fire burn out. Write. Write every day. Write when you don't want to. And publish what you write. Publish it on Amazon. Don't be ashamed of publishing ugly covers with the automatic tools. Publish on your blog. Publish here. Publish on Steemit.
And read. Look for talent among our number, and let them know what they're doing and what they're not. Tell people about the PulpRev authors that are excelling. Don't trumpet PulpRev, trumpet Brilliant Up-And-Coming PulpRev Author YOUR NAME HERE.
This is a lecture to myself more than anyone. My output has been pathetic by any measure, and I haven't even read much of our stuff. Frankly speaking, and I will not name names, some of it feels too much like work. If there is anyone among us that has PROSE THAT FLOWS for Heaven's sake don't keep that hidden. Get obnoxious about it, so we can tell that author how neat they are and they can get high off the positive feedback and write one point four million words a year.
We can lose - but we won't. I believe in you.