So suddenly I'm a travel writer. I don't follow the normal path of travel writers, but I didn't follow the normal path of being a book author, so that should come as no surprise.
Nor is my returning to an old trope of mine: bitching about shitty writing. Yeah, this is old, well-covered ground. But I think I may have come to an understanding, and it's all thanks to Danny Bonaduce.
On a bus ride back from Phuket last week, Bigfoot
was playing on the bus' entertainment system. It was fully overdubbed in Thai, and thankfully at a low enough volume that I could tune it out and stay focused on one of Iain Banks' Culture
novels. The juxtaposition of the two was not lost on me.
Bigfoot is not a good movie. It's filled with not-great actors working with a sub-par script. It's categorically terrible, and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone disagreeing with that statement.
Yet, it was made. It wasn't an accidental flop. Everyone involved with the project -- if they were being honest with themselves -- knew that Academy Awards would not be forthcoming. Yet they still did it. Why?"Never confuse quality with commercial viability." +Cory Doctorow
said that when we were on a panel together at WorldCon years ago. The reason that movie was made was simple: It would make money. Money for the studio. Money for the actors. Money for every single person that worked on the movie. They all got a paycheck.
I'm starting to realize that good vs bad is a false dichotomy. So is hobbyist vs professional. It's all layered nuances, with dedicated and voracious audiences at every level. Donnie Bonaduce isn't and isn't going to become Johnny Depp. Not all scifi authors have to be or even can be Iain Banks. Plenty of talented hockey players aren't cut out for the NHL, but entertain the hell out of fans every time they step onto the ice in smaller arenas. There are levels to everything.
These players, actors, writers... all of them work really, really hard to be the best they can be
. And those last three words are key. It's not about being lazy. It's not about recognizing you'e not The Best and finding something else. It's about being good, constantly working to improve your own craft to be at the top of your game in whatever level or strata you operate. There is no absolute scale for greatness.
There are audiences to be found at every level. Audiences which will, if you're good enough at that level, spend their hard-earned money on your stuff. No, the kid playing soccer for a team in Thailand probably isn't making as much as a third-stringer on Manchester United. But he's making a living, and probably living even better as it's super cheap to live here. And he's probably being treated like royalty at this level.
It's really no different for writers; travel, book, or otherwise.
But I'm still gonna bitch if you consistently and blindly try to punch above your weight. A guy's gotta have his principles.(PS - None of this is to be construed as me claiming to be a travel writer at the top of his game. Hell, I don't even know the _rules
to the game.)_