by Joseph Rubas
An ill-tempered screed against assholes in the small press. Part satire, part not.
| ALL WRITERS ARE ASSHOLES
By Joseph Rubas
Okay. Maybe not all of them.
When I first set pen to paper, I imagined that one day I’d be a superstar. Publishers would love me, chicks would dig me, and money would fall out of my ass every time I needed to buy 20,000 dollar designer jeans or that new yacht all my movie star friends were talking about, you know, the one that doubles as a submarine and has solid gold plating? Yeah. That’s what I thought.
Reality is a funny thing. It has a tendency to get in the way of the things we want. I’m not rich and famous, I don’t have loads of hot chicks fighting over me in a pit of chocolate pudding, and I still don’t have that goddamn yacht. But you know what? I love what I do. I love writing, I love editing, I love submitting, I even love those impersonal forum rejections that go, “Dear Contributor, thank you for allowing us to review your work, unfortunately...” but really mean “I’m too busy being a snob to type out a personal rejection, even though I’m going to shoot off to Facebook as soon as I hit SEND and post a snide little status mocking you and that weird formatting thing you did. I COULD have said something about it to you, but, hey, fuck you.” Yeah. Something like that happened to me. Whatever. The point is: The worst day I’ve spent in the writing mine is better than my best day anywhere else. Pretty much. My son’s birth and all that.
But you know what? There’s something I DON’T love. Let’s call it...office politics. That’s a fitting enough term, I suppose, though a lot of other things crowd under that umbrella (eh, eh, eh) that have nothing even remotely to do with politics. I WOULD say I hate the people, the writers, editors, etc, etc, but I’d come across as an asshole and I don’t need that shit right now.
I’m pretty active on Facebook. I have...six, seven hundred friends (something like that), and many of them are connected to the publishing world in some way. Writers. Editors. Publishers. Poets. Playwrights. Groupies. (Yeah. We have groupies. They look like librarians, but, man, get ‘em in the sack and they might as well be Pamela Anderson). Some of them are pretty cool people. The vast majority, however, are assholes. Yes. I used a vulgar, unintelligent term because....guess what...nothing else fits. Dicks, maybe. Pricks.
Whatever I call them, it’s all the same. In the four years that I’ve actively forced myself to network with the community at large, I have had the intense displeasure of encountering some of the nastiest people alive (I hope). I’ve met people who are so rude, condescending, pompous, egotistical, vain, bigoted, politically extreme, hateful, snobby, overbearing, sadistic, infantile, and all around disgusting. You remember that old show Gilligan’s Island? It was about a bunch of people stranded on a deserted island...it was kind of like Survivor, but it didn’t suck. There’s a character named Thurston Howell III. He’s your typical rich guy. Had that richy-rich accent (stiffen your bottom jaw). He wasn’t such a bad guy overall. Sure, he was a little snobby, but he had a heart, and he always wound up doing what was right. Those people I mentioned earlier in that paragraph? They’re his evil asshole friends, the ones who sit around the country club sipping mimosas and laughing at the peons and blacks. It’s like an old boys network, only it DOES include women and blacks. Some of the things they write on Facebook are so infuriating, and if you say something, all their little yes men come running, brown noses at the ready. I don’t know which is worse. The asshole writers, or the little nobody-asskissers who follow them around (think flies on shit).
I’m not linking to any specific thread here, or naming names. I don’t do that. I afford people basic respect. I WILL, however, provide a few (or maybe only one, I dunno yet) examples.
Chances are (if you’re up on small press bullshit drama), you’ve heard of a guy named Nickolaus Pacione. Basically, he’s a mentally ill/retarded subhuman who lives, literally, in his grandparents’ basement. He gets a disability check from the government every month, can’t work, can barely leave the house...oh, and he fancies himself a writer. Since he’s something of an internet folk...thing, I’ll paste an example of his work that can be found in a million other places. This is the opening of his short “Insect”:
From this that eludes me which I pen this as what I say what eludes me is sleep, and from the sleep becomes the etchings where the dreams begin.
Are you scratching your head? Don’t worry, so is everyone else.
The sad part? It only gets worse from here.
Nicky’s terrible writing isn’t why he’s (in)famous, though. His claim to fame is stalking, harassing, threatening to rape/murder/kidnap/blah, blah, blah various people online, many of them “professional” writers. I could go on and on about the shit he’s done in his seventeen year terror spree, but I don’t have that kind of time. I’m not the guy’s biographer: This asshole is.
Anyway, in sum, Nick Pacione is a sad, basement dwelling troll with an IQ so low it’s freezing. For all intents and purposes, he’s a childish internet tough guy who conducts himself in the most disgraceful manner one can hope to imagine.
And his enemies do the same shit.
Since about 2007, many people Pacione’s pissed off over the years have coalesced into an informal cyber-movement loosely labeled EON (Enemies of Nick). There’s a blog (the one I linked to earlier) that has been tracking his every movement for eight goddamn years. Some of the info posted on The Rusty Nail is relevant. “Hey, Nick threatened to kill this famous writer and then got him kicked off Facebook.” Most of it, however, is petty shit, stuff that serves absolutely no purpose in informing writers about Nick the Dick (and endeavor I support). At this point, however, it’s like flogging a dead horse. There’s enough material online to keep Pacione’s name shit for a thousand years. All anyone has to do is Google him. And if they don’t...well, they aren’t going to see The Rusty Nail anyway, now, are they?
It’s a little scary when you realize that there’s someone out there who’s been tracking Nicky’s every fart for almost an entire decade. That’s some Fatal Attraction shit right there. We get it. Nick Pacione is a piece of shit. You did a good thing, Rusty; anything from here on out is decadence. It’s like continuing to masturbate even though you’ve already come.
Yes. Nick is bad. He’s terrible. Block him and leave him alone. Revoke the power you’ve given him over you and move on with your life.
Another thing: Nicky’s always bitching about being plagiarized. He’s a paranoid schizophrenic like that. But you know what? People have posted his work online for free (that’s his own fault for making it rain with advance ecopies, but still). They’ve also written actual stories about him (a few are told via robovoice on Youtube). Someone did a long running comic strip about him. Hell, there’s even a publisher out there who has put out SEVERAL anthologies with a title similar to Nick’s publishing “company” Lake Fossil, and, looking through the TOC, a lot of the stories bear titles obviously inspired by Nick and his shit. Of course, the TOC is chock full of the main the most active EONs. I wonder what the editorial process was like on that one. “Gee, I have a story from a fellow EON and a story from some guy in Texas. Who ever shall I pick?”
Nickolaus Pacione is an industry. Rather than being adults and walking away from the psycho in the sandwich board, these people have turned Nick Pacione into a fucking business, a pastime, a fucking passion. It’s sick. There’s a difference between responding to someone talking shit about you (and warning others to keep clear of him), and dedicating a chunk of your life to drawing cartoons about him. It’s the lengths these people go to that bother me. They’re just as bad as he is.
Whatever, though. An eye or an eye, am I right?
Then there’s the case of T.W. Brown, a writer and publisher. Brown is a convicted child molester. He’s open about what he did. Spent thirteen years in the slammer. Now he’s out and, as far as I can tell, trying to change his life and better himself.
Great. That’s what we all like to see, right? Someone improving themselves?
I was embroiled in a Facebook war with the editor of a small, rinky-dink publishing house over Brown. I said, in summary: If the guy’s really changed and trying to build a better him, great. What he did is disgusting. I certainly don’t wanna hang out with the guy. However, if he’s honestly attempting to turn his life around, I’m not going to take potshots at him from the sidelines, and I’m not going to drag him back more than twenty years and rub his face in what he did. I don’t know if I believe in God anymore (some days I do, some days I don’t), but I do believe in some Christian principles: Love thy neighbor, do unto others as you would have done unto you, judge not lest ye be judged, and...you know...let he who is without sin cast the first stone. In Psycho II, a character says to Norman Bates, “It’s Christian to forgive and forget.” I don’t believe in forgetting, but I believe in forgiving, or at least in living and letting live. I didn’t have a problem with this guy not wanting to forgive, but he had a problem with me wanting to forgive; his responses to my comments were invariably snide and condescending. To be honest, he reminded me a lot of Nick Mamatas, notorious genre troll. I had the pleasure of engaging in an argument with him a while back. I kept cool up until the end. He (and his friends) were so insulting it was all I could do to keep from reaching through the screen and bonking their heads together Three Stooges-style.
At least Mamatas is open about who and what he is. Same with another friend of mine. He’s a big time editor, etc, who’s also a major liberal. I mean his fucking shirt is bloody, his heart bleeds so much. He posted a status the other night about how everyone who hates Obama is a racist. I thought it was wrong-headed and told him so, but I respect that he had the courage and conviction to say: “This is who I am and this is what I think. Fuck you if you don’t like it.”
Not everyone is as open and honest as that. In the Nick Pacione Vs EONs War, most people just walking in would confusedly think Rusty and its merry band of no-life-having stalkers are the good guys. They’re not. I’m sure many of them were attacked by Pacione at some point in the past, but that doesn’t justify the continued waging of a cyber-guerilla campaign whose sole purpose is “Piss Nicky off for the lulz.” How mature is that? You ever hear that saying about being the bigger person and walking away? Yeah, well, they haven’t.
Remember that publisher I was talking about before I got sidetracked (I know, I’m terrible)? The one I was arguing with over TW Brown? His stance was, basically, this: Fuck him. Fuck him. Stone him, skin him, fuck him. After I reduced him to virtual tears (I asked him if he rolled the windows up in his car when he farts so he could sniff it, because he seemed the type. He responded that he never farts. My retort? “Ah, that’s why you’re full of hot air.”), he unfriended me. And another guy who was lurking around followed suit.
What a loss!
That guy, the second one...he’s a prick anyway. He works at a hotel in Texas, and every day he’s on Facebook posting the most insulting, demeaning, dickholish things about the guests, and his coworkers. Speaks volumes about his professionalism. Bored, dead-eyed clerk making snotty observations about the dirty, unwashed peons who dare keep him from his writing. Welcome to the real world, dick. You have to work for a living. It’s not your customers’ fault. Maybe if you were a better writer you wouldn’t have to work at a hotel. But you aren’t. That’s no one’s fault but your own.
I can’t help but think of Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants. If you don’t know, Spongebob works at a fast food joint along with his neighbor, Squidward. Squidward is a son of a bitch. He fancies himself an artist, but his paintings suck and his clarinet playing drives daggers into the ears of anyone unfortunate enough to hear it. In just about every episode, he’s behind the register all like, “You people who slither in here are uncultured morons and trash. I’m better than you.”
The implication is supposed to be that Squidward’s a giant dick.
Yeah. That’s the Texan through-and-through. “You people are all stupid, ugly, rednecky, and inferior to me. May I get your bags, sir?”
The Squidward Syndrome is widespread in the industry. Only the best writers can make a living doing what they do (and the best of the best are the only ones who can make a comfortable living doing what they do). Everyone else has to work. Hell, a lot of the people you see smiling and smug whilst accepting their Stoker Awards, or their Hugos...a lot of those people have to hold a day job.
And they hate it.
Those stuck-up bastards absolutely hate that they have to deal with the unintelligent many to support themselves. There’s another one...works at a bookstore. Same deal as Texasdick Circlepants up there. Every day it’s all, “Everyone who comes in and calls is so stupid. I’m too smart/good/intellectually superior to deal with this. Wah. Wah. Wah.”
Remember how I said I subscribe to certain Christian principles? I think it we treated everyone the way we wanted to be treated (and all that), this world would be a better place. Unfortunately, everyone in the writing biz seems to have totally different viewpoints. Funny. A lot of writers are liberal, and I thought liberals were big on those principles. Not these fucks. Judgmental? Yes. Self-superior? Yes. A lot them honestly think they’re better than everyone else. Because they write. Look, I write, and I love it. That doesn’t mean I’m a smug bastard with a chip on my shoulder. And even though it pains me, I admit: If the dead started walking around and the world turned into Night of the Living Dead, what’s more useful, a doctor or a writer? I’d take the fucking doctor every time, and I wouldn’t be able to blame anyone if they pushed me out of the way to get to Doctor Oz. Doctors, engineers, scientists...those are the guys who are absolutely vital to the continuance of humanity and society. Artists are the icing on the cake.
So calm down. You aren’t the shit. Chances are you’re just shit.
Can you tell I’m not a people person yet?
For the longest time, I tried not to make waves. I tried to smile and make friends and keep everything hunky dory so I can be accepted into the fold one day. Then, recently, I woke up, realized I was sick and tired of the bullshit, and gave up on it. In this industry, you can be as passionate and outspoken as you want, as long as your words and opinions mirror the prevailing line. Anything counter to that is quashed. They’ll disown you, turn their backs on you, call you names, cut you from their lives. Despite what you might think, artists aren’t open-minded. They’re not accepting. Maybe on a personal level they are, but on an institutional level, they’re as bigoted and narrow-minded as anyone else.
And that’s the most crushing thing you can ever realize about humans. We’re all bigoted against someone, or something. Tolerance is a myth. I always say, “You only tolerate what you tolerate.” That means that you tolerate certain things, but not others. Therefore, you’re not a tolerant person, so shut the fuck up.
I suppose intelligence magnifies assholitude. A lot of the people I’ve mentioned (with the exception of Nick Pacione) are very smart.
Whatever it is, the hypocrisy, small-mindedness, and general smug bullshit of the business are starting to wear on me. I said at the beginning of this screed that I imagined one day I’d be rich and shitting gold bricks. But I never imagined that I’d have to wade knee deep in the shit of a million big-headed assholes just to be a part of the community.
Networking is a big part of being a writer. The thing is: Why would I want to network with any of them?