Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Mr. Nobody...and friends

By: Larry Keiler

Now that I've tested, here's my little rant...not exactly about writing...more about fame and non-fame and how conditions change moment to moment.

Do you have any idea what it's like to be one minute, "the show", where everybody's paying attention and you are the main event and people love you and think you are "awesome", a word which everybody seems to use these days? And the next minute you are Mr. Nobody. Nobody listens. Nobody pays attention. Everybody ignores you. 'Cuz you're not the one they came to see. But still, you have to be there, put on your show, make nice, be a pro, do your thing, be just as awesome as you always were except that nobody cares.

That's what it's like doing these off-night shows at the #1 Party Place in Lunchbucket during Oktoberfest. Everybody, including management, falls over the "stars", the hot new stallion in the stall, feeds 'em apples and sugar cubes, while us Mr. Nobody Workhorses get nuttin' but stale oats and a smack upside the head.

A perfect example is one of the headliners from last night, Aaron Pritchett. Up and coming country star. Of course, I'm biased. But my impression of him and his band was that they were awesomely ordinary. Well, that's not quite true. The band was good. Great guitar players. But the songs were undistinguished. And Pritchett, the apparent star, was, to me, just an ordinary singer.

Ah! Enough ranting. It was a country crowd. They don't know from Ein Prosit, even though I taught them, and still they managed to sit on their hands and stare at us goggle-eyed as if we were the ones out of place. Somebody famous said, "You can always tell a country crowd, you just can't tell 'em much."


Marianne said...

Well Larry, you beat me to the punch today. I was thinking about posting something about how hard it is to get anybody's attention - not in musical terms, but in writing terms. I hate playing that "literary game" of "notice me", sucking up to literary types, publishers, etc. I never bought into it - mainly because I don't do it well or naturally, and don't enjoy it - would rather just write - always just thought good writing would rise to the top, or at least closer to it. But you know, looking back, maybe I should have done more "sucking" - slush piles are lonely places.

The other phenomena of the past decade or so is that everyone wants to be the WRITER, rather than the reader. A whole industry has spawned around it - look at all the writer magazines, how-to books, etc. People like Natalie Goldberg (now I like Natalie - love reading her "buddhist memoir" style things) have made very good livings off of people who want to be writers. It's a scam in some ways - these very same experts have not published that much beyond the "how-to" field, aren't really expert themselves in novels, or short stories, or forms other than "how to write" books. Okay, there's my rant. Now I'll get back to writing...

Larry Keiler said...

As writers, we all know that the writing is only the beginning of being a successful writer. The best writers in the world are nowhere without marketing. And the marketing begins with oneself.

And unfortunately, then it's often reduced to mere hype. I'm like you Marianne. I could never abide the schmoozing and shameless self-promotion. But then, that's partly why I've been stuck here in this Yoni School for Wayward Poets. Not enough juice to get away with operating without a licence and deliberately bad spelling. Still, I don't like being disrespected simply because I lack the interest or talent for marketing.

Which brings me back to this music business. The headliner last night (the country night) got paid somewhere around 15 thousand dollars for a 90 minute show. During that show he performed 4 or 5 original songs. The rest were covers. In other words, he has about 20 minutes worth of original material. Fifteen thousand dollars. And why? Because he's been getting a lot of hype on CMT (Country Music Television for those not on that particular wavelength.) People get to know one or two songs and that's all you need to be a star.

Then again, there's hope for us. One great novel, and avoidance of the sophomore jinx, and we're set for life. We could all be the next Norman Mailer.

Marianne said...

Well, I had an interesting experience. I googled myself (sounds obscene, huh?). A lot of writing entries came up - literary and literacy work. But then there was this one search result - "Post modern literature" site. That got me curious, so I clicked onto it, and did a search of my name. There was this bulletin board, where readers wrote what book from their highschool years most affected them - and this kid (or young adult) said The Shunning, and wrote about how great it was... blew me away... so there you go, huh?

Re: paying attention... I guess that is what friendship, and even love is about - we pay each other attention, pay each other's writing attention, pay each other's ideas attention - we PAY ATTENTION. Thank you for paying attention, Larry, and others out there in Blogland and Dove Tale land...