Thursday, October 28, 2010

Watersheds of Anger

For the past two weeks I have been embroiled in a fight to either regain the publication rights to my Sparrowhawk series of novels from the publisher, MacAdam/Cage Publishing in San Francisco, or to be compensated per contract for the sales of that series. I am awaiting the consequences of a breach of contract and rescission notice recently and justly served on that publisher by an attorney for nonpayment of royalties and delinquent royalty statements. I have been engaged in this conflict for three years. The breach of contract notice is just the latest episode in this unwelcome and mentally exhausting adventure.

Dealing with a publisher which has, for all practical purposes, stolen one’s work, but which expects the author to help sell it in contravention of the Thirteenth Amendment, is much like dealing with the IRS or some other confiscatory agency: its functionaries do not care what the extortion and theft do to one’s life and ambition, even if it means penury for the victim.

The irony is that Sparrowhawk has been a revenue-generating mainstay for the publisher. It sells virtually without any marketing on the publisher’s part. If it has sold at all, it is chiefly because of my own numerous booksignings and my ability to sell it to the reading public. This effort, also, has gone largely uncompensated and unacknowledged by the publisher. For a long time, I did not mind that, because Sparrowhawk is important on various levels. To name but four: to me as a writer, as a literary accomplishment, as an exclusively American cultural phenomenon, as an educational tool for Americans who wish to grasp why their country came into existence, which I never intended it to be, but which is serving that purpose nonetheless.

But the time came for me to “go Galt” or to pull a Howard Roark on my own work. I will perform no more booksignings, and will not help to market the work until either the breach of contract is cured, or I regain possession of the publication rights to grant to another publisher that will honor the terms of a contract and market the work more aggressively. I wrote the series with the confidence that I would profit from the labor. To quote Roark: “I have not been paid.” Galt abandoned a revolutionary new motor because he refused to work as a slave. Until further notice, I am on strike, as well. I am abandoning a seminal work on the American Revolution.

So, this year is a watershed year for me. For the past month I have been distracted by this issue, so much so that I have not devoted much attention to current events and have neglected to pen relevant commentaries. 2010 will also be a watershed year in American politics, marked by the midterm elections next week on November 2nd. This is when Americans will have a chance to “throw the bums out” in hopes of electing a more responsive and reality-centered alliance of bums.

The Washington Post, awakening from its self-induced stupor and going against its inbred bias, featured a story today headlined, “Across the country, anger, frustration and fear among voters as election nears.” The headline is the best thing about the article, which is a consensus-driven mishmash of opinions, giving equal time and space to those who do not think Obama and Congress have done enough to bankrupt the country or bring it to heel, and to those who do not think at all.

A far grimmer mood now pervades the electorate, one shaped not just by the immediacy of the economic distress that has hit virtually every household, but by fears that it might take years for everyone, from the average family to the federal government, to climb out of the hole.

Anger is one word that is often used to describe the electorate this year. But one word alone cannot adequately capture the sentiments expressed by voters on doorsteps and street corners, at community centers or candidate rallies. Along with the anger there is fear, worry, nervousness, disappointment, anxiety and disillusionment.


Briefly, what most of the electorate is responding to is the naked face of collectivism in action. The faces are many and insouciant: President Barack Obama’s, Nancy Pelosi’s, Harry Reid’s, Rahm Emanuel’s, Anita Dunn’s, Henry Waxman’s, Barney Frank’s, David Axelrod’s, Robert Gibbs’s – an opera cast of hundreds, if not thousands, all singing in chorus the same liberal/left/collectivist libretto.

The anger and frustration, however, are owned by the electorate; the fear, by the incumbent Democrats. Their reign of terror is nearly over.

When Obama took office, he and the Democrats behaved like some street gang taking over a neighborhood. Their unspoken motto was: “This ain’t your Founding Fathers’ country anymore.”
From that swaggering hubris of thugs and “community organizers” awarded a sanction to loot the country at will and virtually without opposition, they are experiencing the humility of fear and loathing. These last few months have served as a reality check for Obama and the Democrats.

And that is nothing compared to what the Republicans will experience if they do not repeal ALL the socialist/fascist legislation the Democrats rammed down the throats of captive Americans no longer captivated by Obama or government spending and arrogance. The GOP will feel the sting of frustration and disappointment if they merely “amend” the destructive legislation passed by their colleagues across the aisles of the House and Senate.

One lesson the Democrats and closet socialists and fascists in and out of government will not learn is that this election will serve as an unqualified rejection and repudiation of Washington-style collectivism. The Washington Post and The New York Times will always endorse the expansion of government powers, because their City on the Hill is a national Sunnybrook Farm. They will wait in the wings for the chance, provided very likely by the Republicans, to re-impose their legislative servitude. They will not relinquish the idea that servitude and looting will somehow lead to prosperity and an improved “general welfare.” That is because prosperity and security and happiness are not their fundamental goals or motives: it is destruction for the sake of destruction. That is a serious, morally damning charge to make, but it is the only one that explains the administration’s and the Democrats’ otherwise inexplicable obtuseness and indifference to the electorate.

More and more Americans are grasping that fact in an emotional, unarticulated sense-of-life reaction to the pillaging of the Democrats over the last two years. Their contempt for incumbents and candidates in both parties is unmitigated, tangible, and to be reckoned with. What they must understand now is that they should insist that the Republicans -- undeserving beneficiaries of the Tea Party movement – adopt a more principled policy necessary to undo the damage perpetrated by the vandals in Congress and the White House – and to discover and advocate the freedom they have helped Democrats to diminish and obviate, or they will earn and suffer the same deserved fate.

Of course, if the Republicans squander the mandate that will probably be given them by Americans, that will be the end of the line for this country. We might be able to endure and survive two more years of Obama and a gridlocked Congress, but not two more years of Obama and a timorous, compromising Republican Congress.

Anger management is not a good thing to practice in a watershed election year.

9 comments:

Randy said...

My condolences on your troubles with your publisher. I hope that is resolved quickly so you can move on to a more worthy publisher of such a fantastic body of work that is Sparrowhawk (I own them all, thank you.) I look forward to your aggressive return to commentary on current events.

Anonymous said...

Of course, if the Republicans squander the mandate that will probably be given them by Americans, that will be the end of the line for this country. We might be able to endure and survive two more years of Obama and a gridlocked Congress, but not two more years of Obama and a timerous, compromising Republican Congress.

Slade Calhoun said...

I was stunned while reading the Sparrowhawk series by the effort that was obviously expended in writing the novels. I am appalled that you haven't been paid for that effort. Apparently you are not alone: a friend of mine is in the same predicament with his publisher. He's ready to sue everyone involved: publisher, printer, Amazon, etc. I sometimes wish I had been a lawyer, as my old man wanted, but the mood passes. Good luck with reaming your publisher--hope they ain't "judgment proof" by now.

djr said...

Ed, I am sorry (and frustrated) to hear of this mess. The culture is so corrupt; I often ask - when's the next time Mars makes a close pass? Either I can jump or the rest of them. Sparrowhawk was on my daughter's BD list, and happily granted (just last month). [Dan, cards today]

revereridesagain said...

I'm appalled by this, Ed. I re-read "Sparrowhawk" every few months because it helps maintain my emotional stamina to deal with what's going on in the world. I discovered on the first reading I could proceed with complete trust (you even parenthetically helped explain my own first hero to me!) which is so crucial now, when so often I toss other books aside in disgust and a feeling of betrayal when some "conservative" author starts yammering "faith-based" nonsense. We need to do whatever we can to help keep our spirits from running dry in the midst of this political and cultural nightmare we're in. I hope this will be settled justly and soon!

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Wow. When I enjoyed the stimulation of every word of Sparrowhawk, I was imagining you getting paid every time the UPS truck delivered another book. May you find a way to get your publisher to deliber your just and well-deserved compensation soon and in our time!

Anonymous said...

I sympathize with your publishing situation but your portrayal of Obama is ludicrous. Obama has governed like a moderate Republican. His health care reform plan is far to the right of Nixon's own suggested health care reform. When I read such warped invective about Obama, who is not at all a liberal, let alone a socialist, I question how much I should take at face value about your publisher, or anything else.

Bill Bucko said...

Best wishes, as always, Ed! May you soon win justice in the courts!

And to hell with the 11/8 "anonymous" moron that the wind somehow blew in. He certainly doesn't belong here.

Bill Bucko

Anonymous said...

Mario Puzo had some sound advice. From Mario Puzo and Me by Robert Ringer:

"One of my favorite Puzo comments was when he warned aspiring scriptwriters that the only way to get a fair deal in Hollywood is to go into the studio with a mask and gun."

Applies to publishers equally well.
W.