The Orcs and the Books

One Lynn Shepherd (in a Huffington Post article to which I will not link) writes that J.K. Rowling should stop writing novels outside children’s fare on the grounds that it unfairly leave no bookshelf space in the bookstores for talented new writers unfairly squeezed out, like herself, the unfairly treated Lynn Shepherd. And this is unfair.

The luminous Sarah Hoyt has a guest post by Amanda Green, who has of this day won my eternal admiration, for she dares to speak Truth to Whiny:

The doughty Larry Correia addresses the same evil nonsense, laying on with hard-handed and heavy swordstrokes.

Okay, aspiring and new writers, nobody owes you shit. Deal with it. You are an entertainer. Nothing more. If you get really good at entertaining people they will pay you money for your work, so then you need to go find the people who will give you money for your work. If you want more fans, you better keep on improving. As the number of fans grows, you will make more money and sell more books. How you accomplish this is irrelevant, because no matter what, the burden of success is on you and you alone.

JK Rowling making a dollar does not take a dollar out of your pocket. That is loser talk. Quite the contrary, she has grown our market, and brought more readers into genre fiction, so she’s actually put dollars IN your pocket.

It is difficult for me to type these next words, because I hurt my hands with the enthusiasm of my applause for this sound and righteous common sense. Against such towering eloquence, no great contribution by me is needed. I will contribute a lesser word, and say only two things.

First, of the seven deadly sins, six give or promise to give some sort of short term pleasure to the sinner: for with pride we are inflated, with gluttony we are fattened, with lust we slake selfish passions; wrath promises pain to enemies, avarice promises lucre in many glittering forms; sloth lures us with the promise of sleepy indifference to all high things.

Envy is sorrow at the good enjoyed by another. Only envy, of all the filthy and demeaning things one can do to oneself to damage the mind and damn the soul, only envy gives nothing whatever to the sinner. It is like swallowing a porcupine.

I cannot generate an atom of envy for the success of better writers than I. As my very wise friend David B Coe once observed when he overheard snobs mocking Robert Jordon: that writer makes enough money for my publisher so that my publisher can pay me.

To which I must add: that writer, along with a long line of writers from Howard to Burroughs to Tolkien to Morris, that all the right-thinking snobs disdain and mock, that writer also created my audience, yea, created my field. For writers like me, to feel envy of my betters is use the well in the dry wasteland as a latrine. If I befoul it, wherefrom shall I drink?

Second, some readers might wonder why a loyal Catholic zealot like myself has such affection for a adulterous heretic like Ayn Rand, the Apostle of the Sin of Pride. Our philosophies are opposite. I say that the greatest evil in the world is to turn away from that self-sacrificing love which is like God and which is God. She says the greatest evil in the world is to live for another or to allow another to live for you.

Well, despite all differences, here is why I like her: Every time I am tempted to think the bizarre and grotesque portrayals of the collectivist villains in her novels are exaggerations, or are simplistic, or are unrealistic, real life sharply checks me.

Every time I think that the jeering gargoyles she portrays in her books could not possibly exist in real life, a Gothic rainspout shakes itself awake and speaks.

There is a scene in ATLAS SHRUGGED where no-talent writers conspire with no-talent businessmen and no-talent political hacks to pass a law forbidding any change in the production of new books or artistic products.

For a moment, the goons are puzzled as to how such a law would be played out, but the no-talent writers are relieved to hear that under this plan, their old books would be ceaselessly reprinted, and offered in bookstores, and the bookstores will be punished at law if they fail to sale the exact same number of books next year and ever after as this year.  The obvious impossibility of this is not a defect in the plan, but the point. The laws are made so that everyone will be in violation of one part or another.

Under the fair-share law, successful authors have to share their success with unsuccessful authors, and the talented be punished, and the lazy be rewarded.

The argument made above that successful writers should bow gracefully aside to allow unsuccessful writers a fair share of the market is so economically illiterate, so childish, so vile, so shocking to the mind of any honest man, that it acts in part like camouflage. Upon hearing the orcs talking in their orc-talk about ruining the writing field, making the writing field worse, driving good books away and shoving bad books into their shelf space in the name of fair play, and, in short, talking about heaping the writing field high with warm filth and stinking ordure, flies and rivulets and urine,  the sane people react with a blankness of mind akin to shutting one’s eyes at too great a shock. We cannot believe the orcs are serious. We assume they cannot mean that.

You want J.K. Rowlings, the most celebrated writer of our age, to write LESS? The mind reels, we think the orcs do not mean it, we do nothing to shut them down or shut them up, and then the orcs carry out their program, while we scratch our heads, puzzled that no one told us that this was exactly what they meant all along.

But it is what they mean.

Yes, dear reader, the orcs mean exactly that. They want less talent, less books you like, and more dross and spit and entrails.

It is not people like me, the writers, that the orcs hate. We are not the sovereign power in the free market the orcs want to overthrow, and, yelling, trample.

It is you, dear reader. It is people like you, the readers, that the orcs hate. It is your sovereignty, your ability, by choosing books you like over books you dislike, and rewarding bookstores, publishers and writers accordingly, it is you freedom they want to curtail. It is you they want to trample and break and demean.

I am your loyal servant, readers. I work for you, and have the same love a loyal servant has for his master: think of Alfred the butler of Batman, or think of loyal Samwise, Frodo’s gardener.  The orcs think you work for them, and so they have a same hate and despite a man has for a slave that he fears will turn on him.

So they don’t want you to read the books you like or the authors you like.

Why are you not more offended, Your Highnesses? The throne the rebels seek to hurl you from is yours.