Ethics or Creativity

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If I create a bunch of robot followers on any given social media account in order to establish a Bigfoot-esque footprint in the e-Scape and in the minds of Netizens and then, in turn, gain actual, authentic followers as a result of the psuedo perception I established, thus boosting my real life platform and making my brand profitable, is this ethical? Or creative? Hmm.

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Hooray for the Superiority Complex

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So what’s wrong with the Super Complex anyway? Well, obviously, there is nothing wrong in practice or theory, only in sociality. We live in a culture in which the ethos says, “We’re all equal. We’re all special. We’re all talented–now get out of my so I can claim my spot at the front of the line!” See what I mean? There is no actual way to believe you belong in the front, at the helm, or in cockpit as the pilot without the SC. The real question is twofold: “Why do we bludgeon everyone into trying to believe that everyone is special or exceptional and offer no support when the ordinary person grows up to realize that some are truly exceptional and the rest–not so much? Maybe the question is, how can it be true that everyone is special and exceptional?”

The first time a kid faces defeat, maybe the truth is as such: “Look, son, that dude is just flat out bigger, better and badder. I don’t care how big that superiority complex inside of you thinks he is, but he is not going to be able to help you out here, in material life, where pain is very real and very debilitating and some people are just built better.”

Yes, we all have a chance to be exceptional and special, but that’s all we’re promised–a chance. And that chance doesn’t present itself in the same ways. There’s a harsher truth, too: some do not have a chance to be exceptional or special in the ways society determines and defines those very words. e.g. A person with a great personality and who makes others around feel loved will go relatively unnoticed by mainstream culture; a person who lives a quiet, simple life and who does things for others in a sacrificial way will get quiet applause from those around them, but not in mainstream culture. Yes, the person may be fine with this, but that’s not the point. The point is that these people are not considered exceptional and special by mainstream culture, in the social construct we have defined for ourselves. Rock stars rule; athletes are awesome; actors are amazing. The rest, well, they make up that large, relatively anonymous group.

Now, about this chance we have to be exceptional that is by no means a guarantee. The bottom line is, to be exceptional requires risk. Anyone can take the risk to try to see if they have some unique gift in them, but there are two ends. One leads to glory, the other leads to ordinary. Reality says that many will fail trying. Sports and athletes define this perfectly. How many kids want to be varsity studs in high school, then subsequent D-1 elite stars and finally professional superstar-studs? Many try, few succeed. And those that do make it, frankly, are just flat out superior in many ways–physically, at the very least. I think we have to admit that. Why try to make the SC the elephant in the room? That’s not a rhetorical question. The answer is that we do it to protect people’s feeling, of course. You know, that whole self-esteem thing.

I write for young adults. I would be more honest and would be a better mentor if I said that not everyone is special, and definitely not everyone is special in the same ways. Some have rare and unique gifts and, truthfully, are superior in those ways. I agree that society places value on ways that should not be held at such a premium, such as a famous actor or talk show host holding a higher place in people’s hearts than the police officer or teacher, but I have to accept that fact that those to my left and right have already cast their vote. Period. Done. Just accept it.

Ever heard of Kobe Bryant? Lebron James? Michael Jordan? By birth (I mean by DNA, not actually when they are fresh out of the womb), less than three percent of the population is over 6’3″. That means that, when Kobe and Lebron and MJ were born (yes, I mean by DNA coding not when they come down the birth canal), they were in a special class of citizens that had eliminated 97% of the population, and they didn’t even know it. From here, less than 1% of that 3% will make the NBA, let alone become superstars.

So what do we do with the SC that is in our DNA? We can’t deny people their need to harness the SC. It’s ambition in its crudest form. It’s why the Super Bowl exists for goodness’ sakes. The whole my-team-is-better-than-yours syndrome coming to life in front of millions! It’s practically a sequenced amino acid in our genetic code. So why do we feel the need to deny this complex, or at least relegate to a wink-wink, nod-nod?

I say unleash the SC. Let’s uncage it and let it roam. It’s been detained like a zoo animal recently, but it belongs untamed. Most of us have an SC going berserk inside of us anyway, only we look around, kick our feet over the pavement, stuff our hands in our pockets and wonder if it’s acceptable to let it loose. No one has ever succeeded without letting the SC be their catalytic force. Sure, statistics say you’re probably going to fail. More often than not, you’ll find that your SC was a lot larger inside of you then when it plays out in the outside world, and you’ll spend years figuring out how to climb back up the ladder until you get to the crowded rung where the ordinary live their quiet, established lives.

But take the risk before settling for that rung.

The trick: find your interests and see if there’s any performance or productive edge you have in that area. If those two align, then ask yourself if you desire to be great in that area (that’s your SC talking. Listen to i!t). If you get another yes, then accept that as your most honest answer. It feels like wildfire right in the middle of your chest, and when feel it, there’s your path. Of course, you’ll need to pack a machete so you can hack through the jungle of mockers and the gainsayers sure to clog the way!

By the way, I mean all this in terms of trying to accomplish anything totally legal and acceptable. I am not talking some fanatic, terroristic, underground revolution. Sheesh.

Publishing Small or Small Publishing

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Well, after Martin Sisters Publishing accepted me for publication, I had to ask myself the question in the title of this post: Publishing Small or Small Publishing (and yes, there is a difference)? Which am I doing?

Over and over, I rehashed what it meant to be published by a small press—initiate research/thinking cycle and spin until heads comes off.  Finally, just before my head detached from my neck, the answer hit me: There are many small publishers out there, but some are projecting bigger than they are. Why? Product perception and publicity. Moderns call it something like branding, but we’ll stick with the former and more organic, accurate terms. After that, what it comes to down is whether or not a book is good, and that is out my or the publisher’s control. That, my friends, is up to you, the readers. But let’s back up.

Authors can help themselves out by framing and priming the reader’s perception through the publishing medium. It’s the initial first impression of the book that makes it seem more accredited. More believable. More credible. More desirable. More impressionable. Isn’t that what publishers need to do?—create desire for the book before it’s even been read. Only now, in the small press, the author gets to become a quasi-publisher.

What authors who choose to publish with small presses can do to catalyze the increased desirability of their book is maximize their presence in an HD way. You know what I mean by HD, right? I mean High Def. If you’re like me, there’s no comparison between a quality, high quality film and a grainy standard def one. And that’s precisely what the author needs to establish: the perception that their work is in HD. Let’s face it: standard def has the time warp effect plastered all over it, and the era it sends every standard def book to: circa 1960’s, when all that mattered in the books were the words and ideas. Not so today.

The presence of the actual product and its quality are judged a hundred times to the moon before the words and ideas have even had a chance to enter the soul of a reader. Cover and vibe matter. That is what HD perception is all about. It’s all about projecting larger. Don’t get me wrong: the author and publisher have to collaborate to provide a solid and clean story that is up to snuff with current publishing standards (let’s assume that, like all publishers, large or small, we agree that a publisher would not publish a story unless it was legit, just like any other major publisher, otherwise, the novel wouldn’t have been accepted by a legitimate publishing house for publication). But no one is going to actually choose to read that good, clean story unless it stands out. Let me use a metaphor: The book has to be that unknown girl who walks in the room, has that charisma and vibe to her—without even having to say a word—that makes all the guys drop their jaws and forces cringes on all the envious girls. That’s how a book is going to stand the chance of getting read in a satiated market. If you think it’s just about writing a great story, think again. There are plenty of great American novels out there that are published or yet to be published that will never become that great American novel because no one knows about the book (that’s the marketing/branding aspect).

In the small press medium, the author has to develop an alter ego—like, asap—and create a desirability so strong that their book compels readers to select to scope out that book. Thus, the book has to be able to compete with other publishing houses—both small and large—that have full time pros focused on creating desirability as their principal task. Let’s face it, the large houses are able to get their books in your face. Some small presses are figuring out how to create that desirability so that potential readers will look at their books. In order to this, however, those small presses have to create something that looks and feels just like it came from a large press. Yes, this takes away from creative time for the author in the small press world. Yes, authors published by larger houses do have more time to focus on writing and creating their next work because other human beings are assigned to market and brand the novel. But, hey, I have learned to enjoy trying my economic hand. The only thing worse than not trying is not doing anything to promote the novel I labored over.

So, right now that’s what we’re doing. MSP is in the process of proofing the story (which is legit) and creating a solid book (great cover, eBook formatting, etc.) for the story Street Food and Love to live in, something for all of you, the fine YA book readers out there, to want to tremor with delight when the novel crosses your sights. I am in the process of publicizing and creating a platform for my brand: website, blog, et al. All this so that, in the end, you can rest assured that you won’t be reading something that feels like it’s been published small (and if you try to say that feelings don’t matter, then I have to strongly disagree. Your first impressions of a book i.e. the way you feel about it before you ever get into it will go a long way into the reading. As an author, I would rather have you on my side before you start to read than have to prove you wrong through the writing. I don’t want you to say, “Huh. I was pleasantly surprised.” I want, “I can’t wait to start reading this!”). You will be reading a big product right in line with mainstream contemporary YA novels from any other publisher (big or small).

And hey, by the way, Jesus came from a small city and, well, didn’t His small press religious movement project just as large as the other established and contemporary religions of His day (and still going, by the way)? Does that parallel clear things up a bit?