Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Selling out 2

Ed here: When I first got involved in science fiction fandom in `56 Earl Kemp was already a serious and prominent fan out of Chicago. Earl's had an interesting life in publishing of various kinds, notably the soft core paperback market of the late Fifties and Sixties. One of the soft core writers he admired was Hal Dresner, who went on to have a major career in Hollywood and to write a very funny but also illuminating book of writing fiction strictly for money. Earl reprinted the following in one of his recent fanzines. (For all of Earl's current (fascinating) fanzines log on to

From Hal Dresner's The Man Who Wrote Dirty Books…

"…a writer sells out when he agrees to do a bad book; he consummates the bargain when he knowingly lets a bad book slip from his hands. But during the actual writing, there is no such thing as 'selling out' or 'writing down.' A writer has but one voice and he must use it if he is to write, no matter what he is writing. To try to alter that voice for any sustained period is as difficult as trying to talk in a falsetto for a month. He may simplify, but that is simplification and not easy to do. He may also embellish with prosy curlicues, but that is only obfuscation and the true voice remains beneath the fruity tones. He may revise and rewrite and fill his drawers and trunks and wastebaskets in the process. I prefer to keep my wastebasket empty and fill my wallet, so I publish my little keepsakes.

"But make no mistake. They are mine and that is my voice you read. It can't be any other way. The limitations and requirements of the book limit my register and filter my tone like a bad microphone but I am still using my true voice. So if you didn't like This Flogged Flesh, the chances are you won't like my 'real books' either.

look for earl kemp's current fanzines here:

1 comment:

James Reasoner said...

A lot of truth in those two paragraphs by Dresner. I read THE MAN WHO WROTE DIRTY BOOKS years ago and remember it very well. A great book.