On Writing, Starving, and Success

A Conversation with Kevin Lucia

About the Modern State of the Writer’s Market.

Three writers walked into a bar.  One, is Stephen King.  The other two, you’ve probably never heard of….


If there has proven to be a true constant in the world, it is change.  If there has proven to be a scary reality to that constant, it is the speed of it.  I imagine, and wonder, and try to speculate what a meeting of the three or five generations of my ancestors would be like going from me backwards; and then do the same for even the two or three generations leaping from me into the future.  I think this constant is most visible in this context.  Most of us, if we are about forty something, see more similarities between ourselves and our great-grandparents than we do in the likeness of our experience with that of our own children.


There is no combating change.  As nostalgic as I want to be, as much as we can tell there is a certain romanticist approach going on in entertainment capitalizing on that nostalgia for a lost time.  Shows like Stranger Things, remakes such as It, and upcoming projects like Ready Player One, to say nothing of the continuing phenomena of things like Star Wars, or the complete take over of “vintage” rock and movie shirts in Wal-Mart and Target fashion, prove that there is obviously a pining for the past taking place.  But juxtaposed against that is the absolute lightning speed of technological progress.  Just in the case of TVs and Phones, the staggering speed of costly “upgrades” and the almost immediate obsolescence of older technology is completely obvious, if not, in some cases such as downgrading the infrastructure for older devices, proven.


Why does this matter to our two inauspicious writers walking into a bar in the shadow of the Master?  It matters because if you are a forty-something in the world right now, you belong to the generation that got caught completely in the middle of a major cataclysm. On almost every single level, this change has proven to be seismic.  Planning your degree program, and the expectations of that degree program, changed just as you were completing your degree program.  Basically, if you are a forty-something you were educated in one system, but have to navigate a completely different system: and yes, the change is that fast.  This is just as true for independent/ new artists trying to make a name for themselves.

Stephen King’s On Writing is one of the best personal memoirs of the craft.  Both of our nameless writers have used it in their Creative Writing classrooms.  But much of the book’s autobiographical section tries to give an insight on how King navigated the waters of publication.  Many of those avenues have changed, or in some cases completely dried up, so the use of the book as a “how to manual” can certainly still be done, but it requires some modification.  As I have written, and now proven over months of feature articles here on Keep the Greasy Side Down, the power of the online medium is its immediacy.  Whereas Mr. King’s On Writing is a fantastic memoir of the craft, and offers great insights into the creative process, it has become somewhat dated in terms that print media – across the board – has changed.


So, it is of particular interest that Fall of 2017 marks the ten year anniversary of a pivotal change in my life.  It also intersects with the timing of my first meeting with Kevin Lucia, a man who has proven in many ways to be Christopher Marlowe to my Shakespeare: H.P. Lovecraft to my Poe: C.S Lewis to my Tolkien.   Contemporaries are wonderful gifts to the artist, as a solid contemporary pushes one to excel their own limits, exceed their own boundaries, and continually strive for a new level of achievement.  It is much more difficult to become complacent when you have a solid friend in the business, honestly wishing for your every success.


Ten years ago, two writers stumbled into a bar and made a bunch of plans… then they got lost in a dark and foreboding forest where their paths diverged onto two distinctly different journeys.  Ten years later…. after meeting in Arizona over fine New Mexican Cuisine, the writers discuss a few of the steps along the way.


So… this article is going to be a bit of an experiment.  I have divided the discussion into five different but connected topics.  Starting on Sunday, October 22.  I will post the first of these topics.  It will appear as a link here, at the bottom of this article.  One new link will then appear each morning leading up to Friday October 27.

The intent is to create a semi interactive experience with two up and coming horror fiction writers.  But, as discussed, there are a whole lot more similarities between all indie artists, painters, musicians, writers, photographers… all of us are navigating a very shifting and continually changing environment and can learn a lot from each others’ experiences.  Please feel free to comment within each of the page discussions!  If you have questions, post them!  The more lively the dialog, the more use it will be to other artists looking for guidance in a Brave New World.



DAY 3:  Audience, Resumes & Topicality Debate

DAY 4:  The Gatekeeper & The Keymaster

DAY 5:  The Ghosts of Success & The Hauntings of Relevance

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