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Tyrants in Writer's Clothing
Tyrants in Writer's Clothing
(Part 2 of the Don't be an Idiot Series)
by Danny Hankner
“It’s never been easier to be published and never harder to be read.”
Getting along with people has never been an issue for me. I like people, and I like making them laugh. I can’t tell you why I do, only that this is how I’m wired, and there’s no reprogramming those circuits. And what was passed down from my father I’ve now passed onto my son who, even as a toddler, was going out of his way to get a laugh and feedback by doing something ridiculous (like chasing his sisters around the house with his bare bottom) and then asking, “Was that funny, da-da?” I guess that makes us people people.
But there’s one class of humans I take exception to - petty tyrants.
When we think of ‘tyrant’, we picture bejeweled dictators with aviators and harems sipping goblets of wine in banana republics. But the truth is, these schmucks come in all flavors: bullies, abusers, and elitists, just to name a few. And they’re all around, living amongst us, disguised as ordinary citizens until they must insert themselves and their narcissistic demands.
And the writing world has not been spared.
If you’ve been around, you’ve noticed that I have no patience for the current plague that’s swept over the West. Call it Wokism, cancel culture, or whatever nonsense is being shoved down our collective throats. Nobody but a radical fringe minority and their brainless followers care about this, but for some reason, it’s entrenched its ethos firmly into the literary landscape, just as it has in Hollywood and abroad. Forget quality. Pay no heed to raw talent. Let’s tank sales and drive once great icons of storytelling and powerhouse franchises into the dust of our own self-righteousness. You know of what I speak, for we’ve all seen it.
It is the New Religion, and it is to be worshipped and obeyed. And the price for disobedience? Ridicule, excommunication, and persecution. We’ve all seen this, too. The best comedians boycotted, talented actors fired, and everyone with a voice de-platformed and silenced. Is it any wonder so few are willing to stick their necks out? In fact, why don’t you go ahead and list off the names of the authors, magazines, and publishers who have publicly cried foul? Go ahead, I can wait.

While you rack your brain for these sparse, brave few, let me tell you why bending the knee to this ideology is so detrimental, not just for our society, but for you as a writer.

Do you wish to find success in your writing? However we define that, I think we can all agree that getting read is a hallmark of success in this field. Building and holding an audience is a massive undertaking, and one that requires excellence. You see, greatness always engenders an audience – just look at what Michael Jordan, Tiger Words, or Caitlin Clark have done for their respective sports! People love watching the very best on display.
If you want to be read, you need to be worth reading. The Big Five publishing houses are dying because they’ve forgotten this (among other incompetencies), and the lit mag landscape is choking to death on its complete lack of readership. Instead of focusing on good storytelling, they’ve become the arbiters of virtue. And for this, none of them grow.
But you know who is growing? Story Unlikely. In fact, to our knowledge, we’ve become the fastest-growing lit mag in the English-speaking language! And we’ve accomplished this with an all-volunteer labor force and a shoestring budget, hitting nearly 10,000 subscribers in three and a half years!
How did we do it? We’ve set our sights on quality, not messaging. We’ve built a foundation on respecting our fellow readers and writers, not by beating their brains in with propaganda, and by welcoming everyone who values the individual spirit regardless of their beliefs.
Do you want to become a writer who gets read? Then you need to write good material. Stop following the crowd. Stop pumping your stories with nonsense messaging. Trim all fat. Be authentic! This is such a contrast to our society, which is drowning in fakery and inauthenticity.
The tyrants in writer’s clothing will never listen to this – they’re far too arrogant to ever self-assess, let alone change. But you, dear writer, teetering on the precipice of telling your stories while not offending, need to take heart. The whiney-losers of society are always the most vocal; they’ll do what the perennially butt-hurt will do and find a reason to be offended no matter what. Nothing makes them happy, so stop catering to them. Now, I’m not advising you go out and offend simply for the sake of it, but I recall an editor who once said, “If you’re not offending anyone, it’s because you’re not actually saying anything.” Don’t believe me? Think of the average politician who speaks like a robot, trying so desperately not to alienate, but to appease. Do you trust him? Do you even want to listen to his bland, stale, slippery words?
I didn’t think so.
So why would anyone want to listen to you, if you’re just parroting everything else out there? We’re living in such a twisted landscape right now; it’s never been easier to be published and never harder to be read. With all the competition, how does one stand out?
For starters, don’t be a tyrant in writer’s clothing, shaming your readers for not seeing the world for how you see it. Instead, just pen a great story! Dig deep. Tell the tales that inspire you. Have fun, and most importantly, enjoy the process.
But does it work?
Well, this idea is the foundation we’ve built our magazine on, allowing the individual creative to thrive. We’ve removed all genre and thematic restrictions (and even word count, to a degree), and the results are in – it’s why our story quality is consistently so high. Sure, it takes guts and courage to buck the trends – especially if the trends are being cultivated by an angry, brainless mob. I guess you have to ask yourself one question: do you want to appease the unappeasable, or do you want to be read?
If the answer is what I hope it is, then take courage, write boldly, and pay no attention to the tyrants in writer’s clothing.
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