The Gonzo Journals
January 24th, 2023
Today, on this, the five-year anniversary of the great Jack Ketchum’s passing, I would like to discuss something that’s been all over social media lately (depending on whether or not you’re part of this specific community). The infighting has become unbearable and some of the members are in denial deeper than George Santos in a game of Truth or Dare. I’m talking about the dreaded, yet publicly denied, literary genre cliques.
Now, if anyone spends a few minutes perusing the various Facebook groups for each of the literary genres, you’ll notice that they all have one thing in common. If you disagree with the gatekeepers, they’ll send you far out into the social media desert on a dying horse while wearing a giant Mardi Gras head via Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
Gulag! Bust a deal, face the wheel!
I’ve been a professional writer for over fifteen years now, and I’ve never witnessed anything quite like this. Well, sort of. Let’s backtrack a bit to the year 2008 and work our way up to today.
The world was balls deep into Myspace and I was a proud, card-carrying member of the paranormal community. Investigating weekly and blogging about it on my profile, this is how my writing career came to be. Someone suggested that I save them all for a book, so I eventually did. Not everyone was a fan of my work, though. Some Ghost Hunter television show worshippers would critique my methods and curse my contributions to the community. Enter the origins of social media policing. One like-minded idiot types in ‘all caps’, several other idiots agree, and then they act as one.
Goodreads totally stole this idea. Fuck Goodreads and the literary dicks it rode in on.
Regardless, I investigated for ten whole years, managed to land gigs overnight in Six Flags Over Texas, Texas A & M, and various other landmarks, and penned three books on the subject. None of these are still on the market thanks to a divorce and some clever lawyer-ing, but I consider the experience to be a success. People to this day still send me ghost photos to debunk, and I personally hate those people for doing so. Please stop. Who ya gonna call? Someone else.
I was the only novelist I knew or communicated with until 2015, the first half of my entire writing career to that date. It was troubling at times, but it was sane. Then came Facebook, Twitter, and every other mimic our smart phones could throw at us.
I was approached by a lady who lived in my hometown. She had connections with a literary agent in the UK, and this guy had an impressive resume. We spoke the next day and, although hesitant, I signed with him. My world opened to a potentially large tomorrow. Then, I noticed that not everyone in the group wanted to play nicely.
An anthology contributor got cross with another author and the fireworks began. The aggressor soon signed with another agency and an opposing team of literary creeps was born. They barked so loudly that reviews for the upcoming book were pulled from the New York Times and Fangoria Magazine. Everything we’d worked so hard to build came crashing down at our feet thanks to some assholes on social media. Words typed on a phone. Thumbs. My breakout work was ruined by a fucking pair of thumbs.
A year later, after many failed attempts to recoup the organization’s reputation, my agent was diagnosed with an unfortunate disease and the agency closed. I wandered around again on my own for a bit, but my quest for solitude was denied. I’d already been introduced to several communities, and social media was promoted to judge, jury, and executioner. No part of any author’s life was secret or sacred anymore. Dick pics ran amuck with zero chance of stopping them. Mushroom stamps reigned supreme!
Once more, against my better judgement, I met another local writer who was going in halfsies on an indie publishing organization. Out of kindness – and privately hoping for a repeat of my previous dealings – I agreed to join a group of authors within a genre I’d never heard of before. They welcomed me with open arms, we won an award, and I had friends within the community once again. Loneliness was no longer an issue. Then again, it never is until it is.
One of the people in the community tagged me with a critical review, calling me a racist, misogynist, and a baby killer…all because of a character I wrote in a fucking book. I blasted this person for everything it was worth, only to find out that her status within this community was rock fucking solid. The community, including the Goodreads soccer mom gate keepers who review every book released with an iron ‘Oprah’s Book Of The Week Approved’ dildo, began to turn on me one by one. To be honest, I gave two shits and a fuck about most of them to begin with. It was just nice to “belong”.
One of the loudest voices in that community eventually came out as hard-core MAGA, an anti-vax, anti-mask pandemic denier, and anti-LGBTQ. Disgusting, and strange for a “leader” in a community full of open-minded artists. That was the final nail in the coffin. There’s no room for that kind of bullshit in my world.
So, here I sit, basically blacklisted within a community which only exists because the members support one another like fans cosplaying as regular jack offs. A few of them act like ‘King Ding-a-ling’ when they gather in their secret chambers annually, but few, if any, have even heard of their ‘greatness’ outside their own wonky circle. It’s not a big loss professionally, but it was nice to have friends again. For a bit.
During all of this, I was also adopted into the true crime crowd through several LONG seasons of a successful podcast. Not only were some of the listeners a bunch of judgmental assholes, but some of our subjects’ family members weren’t too nice about our nosey inquiries either. I’m a firm believer in truths, and, although I have faltered a bit in recent years in certain situations, have been upon this planet since day one. “If you don’t like the truth, then change your truth.” – C. Derick Miller aka Me.
You know what? Screw them. I didn’t run any of them off. They hopped a bandwagon for the sake of belonging and enjoyed every second of the carnage without even having to get any of their hands bloody. Now that I watch the community from a distance, I can see it imploding with each passing day. It’s dividing itself into factions – just like every other aspect of this country – and devouring itself from the inside out. Like cancer, only less talented and with more fans, but not many.
Some will read this and come at me with fingers drawn, but I have advice for them. Your reaction only validates my accusations. I’ve belonged to a few different genre cliques over the years who all watch my actions with spying eyes for old colleagues I no longer acknowledge. Who would’ve guessed a bunch of fucking writing nerds were so cutthroat, right? They’re not.
Their power ceases the moment you close the social media app. “Kill the body and the head will die” – Hunter S. Thompson.
I don’t say this to offend the followers, only the gatekeepers, who will, in turn, instruct the followers to be offended. Resist the hive mind, my friends. You’re better than this.
I can’t help but believe Jack would be disgusted by what the writing community has become.
Fuck the biz.
Peace, until there isn’t…
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