THE ‘PRIVATE LIVES’ OF ARTISTS

Someone asked me what the private life of any artist, perhaps especially writers, has to do with anyone or anything. I think an artist should actually aspire to be the best anyone can, to be moral, but it shouldn’t, the art and the person are seperate, and as Bulgakov suggested, the facts are not ‘the truth’ of a person either. The point at Abrams is that it would have been irrelavant if my ex partner and senior firm representative had not so hypocritically slammed a door, but simultaneously invaded my life in London. Above all if they had accepted a personal apology, three years back, graciously and humanly, especially considering their negligence, hypocracy and then arrogance, and not left a self righteous accusation there that I beleieve was almost purely raised by the ‘politics’ already flagged at a firm, in my ‘threat’ to write to a CEO about it all. Certainly flagged by me, because someone’s brittleness and extraordinary control mechanisms had made it so difficult and heartbreaking to tour months before, but also because a soul was now ripping apart.

But by the time I knew I had lost someone, which had been the one thing that really mattered, rightly or wrongly, I was arguing with my own editor that at least I needed back the spirit that had been so creative at Abrams, before I ever walked into another editor’s office, in order to work properly there. She called them ‘wise words’, then did exactly the opposite, because of their bullishness, and because in asking for a new energy on a second book, and in fact some support from a man, not a woman, I challenged their ‘power over their list’. I actually turned to a publisher partly because I saw the mounting pressure on my editor, and was then accused of betrayal, though there was certainly an element of trying to ‘play’ a situation that falls badly on me. But she or my publisher though had no real right to threaten ‘positivity turning to negativity’ when I was under contract, no crime had been committed, and they were there to help my work, threatened purely to defend the privacies and position of their favourite employee, and sadly mine too, and it sent negativity everywhere. It made a personal issue a professional issue. They would not answer the whys of something so personal, but they would not release it either, or let me answer, as a later ‘enquiry’ partly did. They and especially an ex made peace impossible and it was ultimately horrible. I was already far too locked in though, on the edge, but when I tried to turn it positive through work and another book proposal, reaserting my ego out of such despair, that all got messed up by mistrust, and the presence on the scene of an agent who had no conception of the emotional depth and a longed for relationship to a firm. ‘You mention contracts and you will destroy trust’ she told me. But an ex had destroyed real trust with her ‘Hew, Screw and Glue’, not to mention always unilaterally seeking the place of greatest emotional safety for themself alone, and so did my editor, with her ominous warnings about ‘protecting our girl’, drying up support and contact with several people long before, or her talk of confidences then so obviously breached behind the scenes. There were several things involved in that battle, both about personalities and about politics, but in the end the defence of their rights of privacy over any of mine became ferocious and totally unjust. It is much to do with the ‘culture’ of American firms, and the aggression and fear inside them too. The ‘lock down’ on real editorial honesty and communication was equally awful, because of a ‘secret’ held inside a department, as was their consciously delaying, or so I believe, an edit in order to control me, and to shut me up about the personal pain left there by someone being so characteristically avoiding, and basically cruel and unimaginative. It had always affected the work too, because muses are very real.‘The relationship that never was, the editor that never was, the vanishing employee who has nothing to do with your books and career, ho, ho.‘ Another true contempt to a heart and spirit, and in fact two happy years together, that made it even more killing from people I knew so well. We’ll find the easiest label of YOU, our own supposedly valued author, to mask the real politics at work, and make damn sure we don’t take a good look in the mirror. How a CEO they all thought was a bully loved bullying me, or trying to, loved trying to hand down a guillotine ‘exit strategy’, or ‘looking forward to reading my work in future’, until I fought back into the place it’s the hardest to ever fight, the place of lost love. How he used it too to find his way into a department where he had been basically mistrusted. If that’s my ‘fault’, it’s first the fault of a women I loved, and an editor, not quietly having the grace to be sad or sorry about what was going on. Now I’m the author who never existed at Abrams either, and damn the books already there, or future work either.

What is it most private in ourselves we always fight to defend? Some essential vulnerablity, you might even equate to fundamental love and innocence, that is exactly about why people write young adult fantasy at all, and was put on the wrack at Abrams. Some Room 101 fear that might always break any one of us? Or was it because all that ‘grown up’ stuff, that is supposed to be what adults are made of, could not be associated with the maintained fronts in ‘Children’s publishing’, especially at a ‘polite’ and decent American firm? Like an editor who specialises in Rock N Roll books too, but was terrified of displaying any Rock N Roll openess either, and was the first to use an awful word like ‘evil’, in her fears and misunderstandings. I’ve said many times that what came out of my own psyche at times was nasty and very unhappy, in that boxed prison of their negatives, and their fears that created such fear, as I tried to work for and with them. With the same determination I have always had in getting it right, and so earning any advances right down the line, very honourably. But each time I tried to rise above the mess, and not one of them did, while I still believe at the most superifical level of consciousness, so ego driven, they still think they were somehow in the ‘right’. No, they simply do not give a damn, and they ‘won’, in a strangely American ‘them’ and ‘us’ mentality, that really began with my own editor thinking herself so brave, at the cost of my whole life and work. Almost the climate of ‘terror’ we live in now too, that is as much generated in our own psyches and limited imaginations, as by horrible events and actions in the real world. There’s too much money and fun in what they do though, too many bigger business interests, and power wins the field. How nice for editors to enjoy it all, the reflected glory of art and success, supported by colleagues, salaries, shares, and official titles, how sad for authors who have fought for twelve years to write worthwhile stories and survive too. The essential link is writer to reader, but there is an energetic flow of creation in getting to that, that involves some kind of sacred trust too, and that was utterly mangled by my own publisher and editor, at source, and because of so called private lives, that was never allowed to be private for me. It had extraordinary and dark consequences, but perhaps they’ll see the light again one day too and be real human beings. The thing is, like Tuning Forks, they chime utterly to the horrid politics and the privalege of staying behind the scenes. Perhaps they should try writing books, and saying things, not just cutting or editing the awkward bits.DCD

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