Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Writing Wednesday: Addition By Subtraction

This is another post relating to mine and Cindy Borgne's favorite online writing group person, whom we'll call JayG.  I got into one of my epic flame wars with him on last month (continuing into this month) when he told someone "You shouldn't be describing anything."  Which to me sounded like the most asinine advice ever.  I mean if the author isn't describing anything, then who will?  It's not like some magic fairy will come in and sprinkle description into your manuscript.

Yes I understand he meant it as a metaphor or whatever.  You the author aren't supposed to describe things; you're supposed to let the character describe them.  But when you're saying something like that to a new writer they might actually think you mean it literally.  Plus JayG has this habit of talking down to everyone, basically saying anyone who hasn't read Dwight Swain can't write.  (Yet I'm sure Stephen King, JK Rowling, etc. did just fine without the late Mr. Swain.)

Anyway, he said, "I'd take your crap a lot more seriously if your writing was selling."  So of course I had to educate him on that point.  Sure I'm not making Stephen King or JK Rowling money, but I'm selling a lot more than him.  I mean, my latest book (by me I mean PT Dilloway not my other names) Another Chance sold like three-dozen copies in the US in July.  Again, not huge numbers but consider that JayG's last four books have a combined 0 sales on Amazon.

I mentioned that my book was ranked 30,000-ish on Amazon while his buddy Dwight Swain's was at 62,000-ish.  So then he tells me that 30,000 "sucks" because a real publisher's book would be doing so much better.  Again this is someone who probably hasn't sold a book all year and he's telling me that my sales suck.  When that didn't work he just took to lying, trying to say Chance of a Lifetime and Last Chance had no sales ranking.  That was hilarious since those are my most-reviewed books.  He literally couldn't have picked worse books to lie about.  I went all Ross Perot with the charts and graphs:

He of course couldn't admit he was wrong and predictably said, "Fourteen books in ninety days. And you hold that up as an example of great sales? Kid, that's awful."  Never mind that I never said it was great sales; I was just showing there were SOME sales when he said there were no sales EVER.  And note the use "Kid" to try to belittle me even though as someone who's almost 38 I'm pretty far from a kid.  (Though compared to him most people would be kids yet.)

The problem is people like JayG are that sort who are so immature they can't be happy for the success of others.  They're so stunted emotionally that they take anyone else's success as a personal insult.  Like it's a zero-sum game where only one person is allowed to be successful and that's JayG.  If anyone else is even slightly more successful (and by definition almost anyone else is) then he has to find a way to bring that person down to his level.  You know, so I say my book is 30,000 (out of however many billion) and well, that's not as good as Harper Lee's latest book.

What I mean by the title of this post "Addition By Subtraction" is that the only way some people can add to their self-esteem is by subtracting it from others.  If they can't feel successful then no one else should be allowed to feel that either.  I know someone else who probably fits that definition; you can use your imaginations to supply that name.

Not to say that I'm not guilty for thinking that sometimes.  I try not to act like too much of an ass when other people have success.  I also try not to brag too much about my minor successes, except in backhand ways like this.

Another amusing part of that flame war was JayG would get senile or something and act like I'm the one who brought up sales when anyone who looked at the message board thread could see he's the one who attacked my sales.  Then being the small man that he is, he couldn't deal with the reality so he had to flip the script in his mind so I was some braggart who came swaggering in crowing about my success.  Because otherwise he would just look like a real jackass for picking on the sales of someone who sells more books than him, right?

Like someone else who is older than me and claimed to be so much more mature, JayG was content to let the battle go on to Doomsday.  I was the one who decided to walk away.  Of course in his last post he had to take a couple of wild swings, insinuating I'm a transvestite (I don't think he knows the difference transvestite and transgender, BTW) and that someone else who previously attacked him was my sock puppet, though that person had been around for years.  By that point I'm just shaking my head sadly and walking away.  Leave the pitiful little man to his delusions.

Anyway, should you encounter a JayG, just remember what your mom probably said when people made fun of you as a kid:  they're only doing that because they're jealous.  Maybe that wasn't entirely true, but in the case of someone like JayG it certainly is.

It's a much better way to live to celebrate the small successes of others, or at least not to demean them.  That's part of what it means to be a grown-up.

(I recognize the irony in me demeaning JayG in a post saying not to demean people, but as Cindy Borgne can attest to, the guy certainly has it coming.)

BTW, a couple of times he said, "You can't make me angry" which inspired me to make a little meme:
JayG SMASH Your Writing!


  1. I found out recently he was booted from Critique Circle, and it wasn't me who complained. Some of his advice isn't all that bad, it's mostly the way he goes about it and his tone. He thinks he's Sol Stein or something.

  2. Well, he sounds like a relatively pleasant individual without a chip on his shoulder in anyway. Sorry you had to deal with that. :/

  3. Never take advice from someone that's not a success in their field of advice. It's easy to read books and be book smart, but it's putting it into practice that's hard.

  4. There are so many writers spewing so much advice online. I think it's all narcissism. People want others to look up to them as an authority. It must be really frustrating for those who desire greatness and fall short day after day until they die. I'm much happier to be a consumer. I consume what others create and I have no advice to give on the subject of being a consumer other than "keep consuming because the supply never ends."

  5. Sounds like this JayG is a bit of an asshole.
    As an indie comic book writer I totally understand what it's like to have low sales. But you have start somwhere, you can't become famous overnight.



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