W. P. Johnson

The Man From La La Land and Comrades

In Uncategorized on July 1, 2012 at 5:44 pm

     For those of you who don’t know, I bartend for a living. I know! You probably assumed I was living off the royalties from Pulp Modern III, well guess again scum. And I’ll be fucked if I hold my breath waiting to see another royalty check from Kzine for their second issue, featuring my story “The Stench”.

But enough hidden plugs. Today I’d like to talk about one of my regulars at the bar I work at. I have quite a few regulars and as is the case with anyone you get to know in such respects, the question always come about as to what it is I do outside of bartending, if I’m in school, went to school, do I plan on going to school. The short answer is that I went to Temple University and I want to be a writer.

One man in particular, who I’ll call Mr. X, can’t seem to get enough of asking me about my work. Originally he lived in LA and worked in the “business” of making dreams come alive in tinsel town. Now he runs a family business in Philadelphia and frequents my establishment at least once a week. He always over tips and is easily one of the nicest people on planet earth. Seriously, this guy can talk to ANYONE. I once witnessed him have an hour long conversation with a stranger across the bar. By the time they were done talking they were sitting next to each other, exchanging numbers.

I was pretty dumb founded by this. After all, writers tend to be moody cunts and I’m no exception to the rule of thumb that the reason we do what we do is because A, we love the work, and the magic of story, and blah blah blah. And B, we’re antisocial and would sooner have a conversation with a cat than another human being.

But I digress on making generalizations on writers that are only partially true. Point is, after seeing this particular display, I told him how strange I thought it was (Philadelphia is not known for its Brotherly Love despite what you may have heard). He laughed it off, and said to me, “You think I’m really gonna call that guy? Dude, I was just being nice.” Sensing my own skepticism about our relationship, he added, “It’s not like you and me… I really do enjoy your work,” he said while deleting the stranger’s number on his phone and presumably keeping mine.

Funny though, having emailed Mr. X nearly four or five stories and the first quarter of an ongoing screen play that I hope to finish by the end of the summer, he never had anything more to say than, “Dude… you’re really twisted,” while making a sly grin. “I love it!”

Of course I’m really twisted Mr. X. I’m a horror writer. You knew that because I told you. But I don’t think you really read any of those stories. In fact, I think you’re completely full of shit, just another LA jerk off making nice with everyone just in case you might need something from them in the future, albeit a friendly jerk off, but disingenuous non the less. Doesn’t matter how much sugar you pour on bullshit, it’s STILL bullshit when all is said and done.

It brings to mind the networking/promotional side of writing, a thing I truly despise. Truth is I LOVE to write. I didn’t always like to. For a time it was just something I thought maybe I’d be good at, but nowadays when I sit down to work on something, I get excited. But when I do finish that story and its accepted somewhere, now comes the work of begging people to read it and what follows is a surreal puzzle of facebook posts and tweets that Philip K. Dick would’ve found weird.

For instance, I’ve got friends on facebook that are writers and when they publish a new story they post it on their facebook, twitter, myspace, tumblr, youtube, picasso, instagram, wordpress, google+, podcast, as well as a plethora of message boards (that’s the first and last time I’ll ever use the word plethora, I promise). In addition to this there are sub categories within certain social media venues, sub groups for anthologies, books, author pages, prompting identical posts from the same person in different places. Even more surreal is when said post is incidental, having nothing to do with promoting ones work. After all, if you post something on your facebook page and then again on your author page, what’s the point of splitting it in two? In other words, what friend isn’t already following your professional life to the extent that they would know about your accomplishments without having to post it again within the realm of your personal social media universe?

In the age of smart phones letting me know when someone is speaking to me or posting something, you’d think my phone has Parkinson’s, it vibrates so goddamn much from all the tweets, posts, updates, pms, dms, invites, save the dates, profile changes, responses, tagged pictures. One starts to feel like they just got hired for a data entry job and sometimes when I sit down to cipher through all the drek, I begin to feel a bit manic and overwhelmed by it all.

I just want someone to read my story…

I’d assume my writer friends feel the same way. In a recent rant by up and coming Richard Thomas on facebook (which I feel comfortable posting here considering he has nearly 5,000 friends, so how private could it be?), he asked that anyone who had never actually read any of his work or wasn’t at least vaguely familiar with what he does to unfollow him. I found that to be very interesting considering the supposed value of social media. Then again, if I gain ten twitter followers on follow Friday, are they really reading my tweets? After all, they have a couple thousand people they’re following and are followed by equally as many, so let’s be real: no one has the time to be that supportive of so many people.

In the context of the writer’s world, I find it incredulous and disingenuous the way certain people pimp out so many projects, stories, and novels. There’s just no way they could be reading that much! In fact, when Pulp Modern III was published I even had a couple friends of mine promote the story without even having read it first, a thing that made me feel very conflicted. What does it matter if someone likes your status or retweets you if that’s the extent of their interest? It’s like that old saying, if a trees falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Today it would seem that it does make a sound and someone filmed it and put it on youtube! Share it! Like my page! And after you’re done pretending that you care, carry on with liking other pages and following people on twitter in hopes of getting a follow back (check out Slacktivism for a more in depth, and hilarious description of such behavior).

The title of this entry is Men from La La Land (Mr. X from LA), and Other Comrades. So then, dear reader, who are the comrades in all of this? Who, when all the likes and retweets are said and done, really gives a shit whether I write another word?

     I don’t know to be honest. I can guess at a few. For instance, last Friday Booked Podcast did a review of the new anthology by Solarcide, which features my story “Cold Heart”. Not only that, they actually read the whole thing and talked about enough of it to prove that this was the case. I was kind of blown away… someone was asked to promote something and not only did they agree, they actually read it and talked about it for an hour. In retrospect, that truly kicks the shit out of a dozen likes on facebook.

And so, as an experiment, I’m going to ask you to do me a favor (yes, you, the person reading this blog right now). If you read this blog, specifically this entry, let me know somehow. Don’t just like it on facebook. Tell me that you read it. Post something on my wall, or tweet me, or text me personally. But if I catch you liking my status and not commenting afterwards, so help me god…

Alright, alright, I won’t do anything crazy. I’ll just be slightly annoyed and cynical about whether or not you actually care. You’re busy. So am I. But just know that when I promote someone else’s work, it’s because I actually read it and liked it. I don’t do favors, only because I don’t want favors. I work too hard to have someone humor me.

And Mr. X, I don’t think you’re really reading my work. In fact, I’m willing to bet my personal embarrassment by writing about it on this blog that you’ve never read anything by me. However, if I’m wrong and you do follow what it is that I do, I’m sure you’ll confront me about it the next time I see you. If so, then I’m truly sorry for what I said. A thousand apologies in fact. I was completely wrong about you and shouldn’t have been so cynical. Next round is on me buddy.

But if I’m right, you’ll just smile and ask me when my next story is going to print. And I’ll just smile and say, “You can check out my blog for updates.”

     Speaking of updates, Solarcide’s Nova Parade goes live today and features a ton of writers. Newly added to the set list is Jeremy Robert Johnson, a weird fiction/horror writer I can’t believe I slept on. Years ago I had stumbled upon his first collection of stories, Angel Dust Apocalypse, a collection of weird fiction that I didn’t think much of if I can be honest (I don’t pull punches around here people). However, his new collection of short stories, We Live Inside You, is some of the best new horror/weird fiction I’ve read in years. It came out last October and his short story “A Brilliant Idea” from said collection is featured on Nova Parade for free. This is a horror writer that’s really on his game and is gonna keep getting better.

As mentioned earlier, Nova Parade was reviewed by Booked Podcast, a podcast that is starting to slowly grow on me. These guys are the real deal- they care, and they really do read everything they can get their hands on. The guys at Solarcide care too. I know this because occasionally they let me know how much they liked one of my stories. Sometimes its nice to hear that from someone other than your mother (no offense mom, hearts, kisses). PS mom and dad- you shouldn’t read “Cold Heart”. It’ll make you upset that your son could dream up something so horrific. Everyone else though, have at it. It’s not like I have to have thanksgiving dinner with you come November.

In other news… well there is no other fucking news. I’m just waiting around on six submissions and polishing another two to send out with plans of writing at least three more before sitting down to the script again. What do you want from me people? I’m not a machine. But if I can be so bold, I’d like to take a short moment to mention my sister’s blog on running for charity and celiac disease.

That’s it. What? Were you expecting me to pontificate on what it is she does and writes about? Well, I don’t know because I haven’t read it yet. I’m busy. Just go and like her page already. She needs the hits god damn it!

All kidding aside, she’s a better person than I am (plus she earns points for liking horror almost as much as I do). She runs marathons to earn money for the sick (if you don’t think celiac is a disease, just imagine whatever allergy you have being in nearly every food item ever). Meanwhile, I’m writing monster stories that I doubt will help anyone, but I do hope when they’re finished, some of you read and enjoy them.

Even you, Mr. X.

Until then, here’s to being scary.

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  1. I liked this to be ironic.

  2. Me too. But in my case I think it bored on moronic – ’tis 4:35am here in Tokyo. Need sleep. But great read, matey.

  3. […] second bit of news regards Mr. X. Remember the last blog post where I trashed him? Well, turns out he might have had a good excuse for not being so thorough in […]

  4. Great stuff. Thanks for the shout. Sometimes you’ve gotta crack a few eggs if you’re going to make an omelette, yeah?

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