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If Harlan Ellison Was King

April 3, 2012

Harlan Ellison is the King, self-proclaimed or otherwise, of the Speculative Fiction genre. He holds that title by virtue of his ability to consistently produce published work over a lifetime. His stories still appear in the Top Ten Lists of Fiction Printed in the English Language, so there is little room to argue the fact that Ellison has an impressive body of work that is both challenging and entertaining. Beyond his fiction, Ellison has been published in many other arenas, so what he has to say about the business of writing should be mandatory study for the serious writer. The hurdle that must be overcome is not what he says, but how he says it.

Harlan Ellison is probably one of the most outspoken individuals when it comes to the topic of writing as a vocation. His diatribes, while offensive to some, strike a resonance with those of us who aspire to make our living from the stories we write. When I worked as a professional musician, I would constantly be asked to perform for free. These people would not ask their lawyer or doctor to provide services at no charge, but they had no qualms about expecting me to spend four hours on stage for nothing more than a cheesy BBQ dinner. Having used this example throughout my music career, I leapt with joy to hear the same words come out of the mouth of King Ellison. I made my decision early on to eschew the literary route and write what I love, but not for free.

This video is a clip from the documentary, Dreams with Sharp Teeth, and Ellison states, in no uncertain terms, that writers have just as much right to claim their fair share of the money pie as anyone else in the entertainment industry. Give it a look-see, but be warned, Harlan Ellison could not care less about our sensibilities, and he makes no effort to play nice. His language far exceeds what is normally acceptable in social circles, and he is an opinionated, crass genius. If you are easily offended, this video may not be for you. Otherwise, hold onto your hats!

I highly recommend Dreams with Sharp Teeth with the same caveat as above. If you are quick to take offense, you might want to take a pass.

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From → Art and Craft

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