Many people in publishing backload excuses into their lives. They are themselves excuses incarnate. They are passive, almost never active, weak, oriented around corner-cutting, gossip, envy, being given things rather than doing and earning them, worshiping the hidebound and hating the new, resenting greatness, productivity. They thrive on what they call community, but it's a sick, toxic community where excuses, passivity, discrimination are extolled, and woe to the person who represents the opposite of their strict strictures of weakness and indolence, who actually strives, creates.
What these people do all the time, in normal times, is whine about how busy they are. No one on earth is less busy. All they are doing is hooking up their friends and staying on the lookout for work that resembles the exact same kind of work they've published time and again. There is no daring of thought (even light, vague, cautionary, ever-so-slight daring), no originality, no vigorous searching, nor even slight openness, for anything (or anyone) that is new, that might mean a damn. It is the life completely lived on autopilot, though it's not a life lived. It's a mean, nasty, selfish, lazy existence that kills off reading in the world. If you don't espouse it yourself, they will hate you. It will always be personal. It will be personal because you possess the virtues you do, and they are how they are. They are going to hate you for possessing those strengths.
What I see presently is these people, who now openly claim they have so much time on their hands, unable to do anything of any value. To fill up their days. They spend their days on Facebook, asking for Netflix suggestions, and asking the members of their community to share with them their photos of their pet rabbits, goldfish, parakeets, cats, dogs. No joke. "Okay, go!" one of them will Facebook-shout, which means you're supposed to put up your photo of Ralph, your elderly beagle.
These are the people I send letters, stories, pitches, work to, all of which will be ignored--even when it would surge their operation forward, their business, their reputation--because of the hate and bigotry, who see me do more each morning before they wake up than they could in 500 years. Enter, then, the endless enmity. I watch them on Facebook post how now that you have time, that doesn't mean you have to write that novel, story, poem, essay, book, or learn anything about anything. It's you time! It's time for a break! You don't need to do anything! You shouldn't!
These people are so weak and untalented. Why ever do anything, right? Why create? Why grow? They don't do it when they say the don't have the time--they do--and they don't do it when they say they have the time. Why? Because it's completely beyond them. They're frauds. They are husks. They are in this business because of trust funds, because this is the only form of community--this sick binding together of similarly sick people--these people could ever know, and it's all pretend. You can't fake being a great basketball player. But in publishing, you could be a worse writer than my plumber, you could even be Laura van den Berg, and given that this is just a twisted and disturbing popularity contest of the sick and broken, you can be called an awesome writer, because reality never enters into anything in this deranged fantasy camp that calls itself publishing in 2020.
What makes you popular here? Being sick and broken. Being weak. Doing little. Having gone to the right school. Having no expertise. Being from the right class strata. Doing one very basic thing, and not often at that. Why? I'll tell you why: Popularity in publishing, the community (and that is what will get you the puff positive reviews, the awards, the solicitations from fancy magazines where they will publish any bilge that happens to have your name on top, the big book deals, the 20,000 Twitter followers--which is circa the number you can max out at if you just have this community behind you), is entirely based on other people being able to look at you and say, "I can do that." That is why the worst writers, who do next to nothing, who know nothing, who write one piece every two years, are feted, because these people, always devoured by their own insecurity, can look at them and not feel threatened, not feel as insecure as they usually do.
No one can look at me and think they could do any of it, let alone near my level, let alone all of it. Hence, max hatred, isolation, suppression with the community. (Plus, I'm a self-made athletic-looking white male, which they also loathe.) But they're really good at not writing, writing poorly, knowing nothing, looking at photos of dogs, watching Netflix, hating and discriminating inwardly and professionally while virtue signaling all day on social media--and I'm convinced some of them love what his happening right now, because it provides them with more opportunity to try to show you how great they are and it's not like they can produce work that merits attention--and making excuses.
They'll tell you to "stay the fuck" home sixty times a day and how they go to Trader Joe's during this time of the world ending and the cashier cries in front of them and wants to hug them but they can't (none of this ever actually happened, but they need that attention), but they never tell themselves to be less evil. They never tell themselves to not trade that favor so their worthless story can appear in some journal. They like that. No people have ever lived less honestly than these people. Of course they don't want anyone to create anything or grow. They want to be enabled. It's vital to their delicate, house-of-cards psyches. They possess absolutely no individuality--they are a cloned army of the emotionally and intellectually dysfunctional--and they rely on each other saying the exact same things to underwrite the indolence, passivity, and the pointlessness by pretending it's something else. The lies work better with more people saying them. They are always trying to trick and convince themselves so that they never have to deal in reality or the truth.
There are some exceptions. And it's never too late to become an exception. It's never too late to have enough people decide to become an exception that something better, more just, with a point, with value, begins to emerge, begins to become the new norm, becomes the new system, a system of consequence. What is going to matter is what you are, not what you were.