Raising the Freak Flag with Guest Nick Mamatas

Welcome to Nick Mamatas, who will be guest posting this week here at Booklife.

Mamatas has been freelance writing and editing for little over a decade now.  His experiences have been, to say the least, varied.  In fact, his CV reads like a cut-and-paste from 12 different writer’s bibliographies.  His list of credits is all over the map.

On his blog, in his essays, and especially in his new book, Starve Better: Surviving the Endless Horror of the Writing Life, Mamatas writes with wit, honesty, and openness.  Even when he’s getting himself into to trouble, he’s wide open and funny about it.  (Or maybe that’s part of the reason why he’s getting in trouble?)

Sometimes I don’t agree with Mamatas, but I keep reading–whether to see what he’ll say next, to be convinced by what he has to say, or to find out how he’s going to get himself out of this one!

Indeed, his openness sometimes makes him a target.

“I write, and publish, for the abuse as much as anything else,” says Mamatas in a guest post over at the Apex Book Company blog. “Which is lucky for me, since I get so much of it.”

Starve Better is as much about craft as it is about career.  And the message from the start is clear: Freelancing is not just working the tightrope without a net; it’s working the tightrope without a rope… yet the writer keeps writing.

“The only thing I can guarantee for readers of Starve Better is this: your checks will not arrive on time,” says Mamatas in the introduction to Starve Better.

If you’ve had at least one invoice go unpaid, one publication go under before your story ran, or one typo printed under your byline… you’ll be doing the “so true” shudder from page one of Starve Better.

If you haven’t had any of these things happen to you…  heads up.

Here’s a paragraph, again from Mamatas’ Apex guest post, that ought to keep you coming back this week to see what Mamatas has to say: “I keep writing because I want to raise a freak flag and see who salutes, and see who prepares counter-protests. If I can keep my material out there despite the nasty emails and the occasional invitation to a parking lot punch-up, then there’s hope. If editors or publishers will still take a chance, and accept my work though it doesn’t ‘quite fit’ or exists ‘outside the box’ or ‘pushes the boundary of profanity for what I am most comfortable printing’—to quote from some acceptance letters—then the inevitable nastiness that follows is worth it. Anyone can write what the market or the public wants, after all. The trick is to write what nobody should want…but which gets published anyway because quality still matters more than propriety or profit. That’s how one starves better.”