Sunday, August 05, 2007

Vox Day and Me (Part 1)

Thirty years. Four continents. Two full theatrical scores, two film scores, five novels in print, more than fifty published short stories, and I stopped counting nonfiction publications many years ago, when I hit the two-hundred mark. And yet, for all of the people I've known, places I've been, and things I've done, there is one question that keeps coming back up:

What's Vox Day really like?

Well, for one thing, short. But then from my point of view, most people are short.

Sometimes the question gets asked with a touch of awe, because I've actually been in His presence and sometimes even gotten Him to pick up the check. Equally frequently it gets asked the other way, as in, "Why the Hell do you associate with him? Why in God's Name did you do Rebel Moon? Don't you know what this is doing to your career?"

Granted, the kid is a lightning rod, and it's entirely of his making and by his choice. But to be honest, I'm perfectly capable of screwing up my own career without his help, thank you very much, and I've long since given up any hope of meshing well with the SFFGLBTWA crowd. Therefore, to answer the one readily answerable question: why Rebel Moon?

It's always hard to know where to start these sorts of explanations. Given that this is my blog, though, and I'm the editor, I'll just set my Time Machine for 30 years, drop in three dimes, and cue the sound-effects man...
SFX:  Time Machine noise, cross-fade
I've been called a polymath. I'm sure the people who've done so meant no insult, but I consider it a sort of psychological disorder. I've always been fascinated by so many things, and capable of doing so many things with a fairly high degree of success, that I've never found it necessary to really concentrate on or work hard at doing one thing, to the exclusion of all others.

The problem with this, of course, is that the absolute pinnacle of success is seemingly reserved only for the truly monomaniacal gonzo loons; the one-trick ponies, who may have just one trick, that's all they can do, but they turn that trick with pride.

I, on the other hand, am for lack of a better expression a Swiss Army Pony. And thirty years ago, taking a quick shortcut across the helix of time, I was living on a mattress in Santa Monica, writing songs and getting kicked out of record company A&R offices all over Los Angeles, working on a (thankfully, now lost) novel, drawing a comic strip, and writing scads of short stories, some of which I even tried to sell.
An aside: try to imagine a time before personal computers, email, or the ubiquitous Kinko's shops, when writers actually typed stories on paper, and then mailed the resulting typed-upon paper to editors, being sure to enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope, so that the editor might return said typed-upon paper if he or she chose not to buy it.*

So it would be right about this time, then, while Jim Baen was editing Galaxy magazine, that I discovered my first sign of editorial life: the words, "TOO 1940S-ISH, OLD HAT," hand-written in big fat letters on the first page of a manuscript that I'd sent to Galaxy.

Being a total naif, of course, I had no idea what an insult this was.

To be continued...

* I believe it was Ring Lardner who said, "A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor."