This one time at Writer's Camp…
A Million Flaming Cups of Sock Puppets
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (me! me!) you’ve probably heard that Scott Adams (creator of the comic Dilbert, which I never understood) has been blasting people on his forums for criticizing him. Hey, everyone has that right. It’s their website and they can defend it if they like. That wouldn’t be an issue normally (Jim Baen, founder of Baen Books, was famous for DaGin Balling (and subsequent signing) of NYT bestselling author John Ringo before Ringo got all famousy) except that Adams was doing it under a pseudonym. Again, nothing to be too concerned about, until you realize just to what lengths he– uh, the pseudonym– went to ensure that everyone out there knew he– er, Adams– was a certified genius. This is called “sock-puppet” (Sockpuppet? Sockpuppetting? Aw, damn it…) and it is used to be a total douche online without actually owning up to your words and deeds.
Fine, simpler explanation: put a sock on your hand. Draw a mouth and two eyes. Blather away incoherently about the unfairness of the world and how everyone is dumb for not understanding (insert your name here)’s genius. You aren’t saying it, the sock puppet is. Got it?
Basically, it’s a cowardly way to spout off. Don’t do this; people will catch on eventually.
Also in the news is that bestselling author Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea novel, which depicts his failed climb to K2 and subsequent solo journey to a small village where he promises to come back and build a school for their hospitality, has been exposed as being allegedly fraudulent. I say “allegedly” because until someone can prove otherwise, the story still stands. However, the media has jumped all over this, including one site stating that Mortenson’s story has been broken into a “million little pieces” by 60 Minutes. This alludes, naturally (again, the whole rock thing… trust me, a lot has happened since you crawled under that rock) to James Frey’s biopic lies in A Million Little Pieces.
Naturally, Mortenson is defending himself quite we– wait, he’s blaming it on his coauthor (and a vast conspiracy of shady individuals who hate charity) and saying that he wanted the lying part removed? Well crap, why didn’t he mention this on Oprah or something? *sigh* Memoirs are crap these days. A little fiction, a little sleight of hand, and vaboom! you got yourself an instant Oprah Book Club/New York Times bestselling book. I mean, if someone wrote a fraudulent book like Frey did, couldn’t they have the balls to state “I did it for me. I wanted fame and fortune, and this book brought it to me. Yes, I lied. This belongs in the fiction section.”
Wait, I’ve got it. I’m going to write the epic story of my journey around the world, titled A Million Little Cups of Tea. It’s a heart-wrenching story of a boy who… uh… was kidnapped by… er, Islamic terrorists in Bali! And about… uhhh… the humanitarian work he– I did in that place… China and how meeting all those
tall short Chinese people inspired me to… uh… do something about it. And how he… refused the award of… uh… coolest guy of the year because he– I… uh… was too busy helping… uh… rescuing kittens (everyone loves kittens, right?) from the clutches of the evil Doctor Nefariom, a crazed voodoo witch doctor in… Somalia?
…wow, I just got four offers on that from various publishing houses.
Jesus, some people will buy anything…
So what it boils down to is this question: why do publishers have lowered standards for non-fiction than they do for fiction?
Trust me: if Frey had pitched his book as fiction, he never would have sold it.
Well, okay, PublishAmerica might have signed him. But they’ll
rip anyone off sign anyone.