Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2016, Day Four: Fan Favorites

For the first three days of the Whatever Shopping Guide 2016, I’ve let authors and creators tell you about their work. Today is different: Today is Fan Favorites day, in which fans, admirers and satisfied customers share with you a few of their favorite things — and you can share some of your favorite things as well. This is a way to discover some cool stuff from folks like you, and to spread the word about some of the things you love.

Fans: Here’s how to post in this thread. Please follow these directions!

1. Fans only: That means that authors and creators may not post about their own work in this thread (they may post about other people’s work, if they are fans). There are already existing threads for traditionally-published authorsnon-traditionally published authors, and for other creators. Those are the places to post about your own work, not here.

2. Individually created and completed works only, please. Which is to say, don’t promote things like a piece of hardware you can find at Home Depot, shoes from Foot Locker, or a TV you got at Wal-Mart. Focus on things created by one person or a small group: Music CDs, books, crafts and such. Things that you’ve discovered and think other people should know about, basically. Do not post about works in progress, even if they’re posted publicly elsewhere. Remember that this is supposed to be a gift guide, and that these are things meant to be given to other people. So focus on things that are completed and able to be sold of shared.

3. One post per fan. In that post, you can list whatever creations you like, from more than one person if you like, but allow me to suggest you focus on newer stuff. Note also that the majority of Whatever’s readership is in the US/Canada, so I suggest focusing on things available in North America.

4. Keep your description of the work brief (there will be a lot of posts, I’m guessing) and entertaining. Imagine the person is in front of you as you tell them about the work and is interested but easily distracted.

5. You may include a link to a sales site if you like by using standard HTML link scripting. Be warned that if you include too many links (typically three or more) your post may get sent to the moderating queue. If this happens, don’t panic: I’ll be going in through the day to release moderated posts. Note that posts will occasionally go into the moderation queue semi-randomly; Don’t panic about that either.

6. Comment posts that are not about fans promoting work they like will be deleted, in order to keep the comment thread useful for people looking to find interesting gifts.

Got it? Excellent. Now: Geek out and tell us about cool stuff you love — and where we can get it too.

Hey, Looks Like It’s Time Once Again For Me to Talk About Writing On Politics

Because of the election and all, I’ve gotten a few people griping to me about the fact I write about politics here and in other places. It’s been a while since I talked extensively about me writing about politics, and also, about the more general topic of entertainers and creative people who talk about politics, and the people who tell them to shut up about it. So let’s talk about these things, shall we.

For ease of discussion, I’ve broken this up into ten points. The first five are about me specifically, and are short. The second five are more general, and rather longer. Ready? Let’s get to it.

I. The Short Points About Me Writing On Politics

1. If you tell me you’re tired of me talking about politics, or tell me to shut up about them, I’ll tell you to kiss my ass. I’ll write about what I want, when I want, where I want, which in this case happens to be about politics, now, here.

2. If you don’t want to read me opining on politics, you are presumably a grown human being with free will and the ability not to read things. Skip over the piece or stop reading the site entirely.

3. If you complain to me about my expressing political opinions in areas under my own control that you are not actually being forced to read, there’s a very good chance I’m going to be rude to you. This is actually covered in the site disclaimer, which has been up for years, on every page of the blog.

4. I don’t give a shit if you become unhappy with me for being rude to you.

5. Likewise, I don’t care if your dislike of my writing about politics and/or your being upset that I was rude to you when you complained about it means you no longer choose to read my books. Stop reading my books, then.

II. The Longer Points About Creators and Entertainers, Including Me, Opining On Politics

6. For the occasional jackass who opines that entertainers like myself should stick to entertaining and not write about politics or anything else that might possibly offend someone, a) fuck you, b) you’re wrong, c) independent of either of those points, long before I was an author I got paid to write about politics, and still do from time to time (as recently as last month, in fact, in one of the largest newspapers in the nation). So, yeah, actually, writing about politics is a thing I do professionally, thanks so much for asking.

Now, here’s a hot take for you: “Entertainers” are fully-dimensional human beings who don’t exist solely to entertain you, writers in particular write professionally and/or critically about many things over the course of their career, and you suggesting that people not express themselves about politics (or anything else) because they are an “entertainer” makes you the asshole in that scenario, not them. So maybe don’t be shocked when they tell you to sod off.

7. Likewise, this blog existed before I was a published author, and before I was a published novelist. I’ve been writing about politics here literally since the very first week it was up (that week I also wrote about baseball, journalism, my pets, tech stuff and sending out invoices. The site lived up to its name even then). The blog isn’t here to sell my books, although it’s done that incidentally, which makes me happy. It’s here for me to write about whatever I want to write about, when I feel like writing about it, and has been since 1998. Sometimes I will write about politics! And sometimes I won’t — there are entire years (see: 2014) where I pretty much didn’t, because I didn’t want to.

Which again is the point of the blog: It’s about me, writing about what interests me, when it interests me. It’s not about you, or what you want me to write about, or to not write about. Likewise, my Twitter feed, or anything else I control that I put my words out on. If you’re confused about the vector of impetus and control regarding these outlets, for any reason, you’re likely to have a bad time. Especially if you complain to me about it. Other entertainers and creative people may feel similarly about their own spaces, which is a thing you should consider as well.

8. With that said, if my politics make you itchy, then actually, you should probably consider skipping out on the next four years here. I can’t imagine I’m not going to write about politics on a regular basis. I mean, come on: whatever one thinks about Trump, that asshole isn’t boring. Nor are American politics or social issues going to be anything but a bumpy ride the next few years. I’m not going to say it’s going to be fun. But it’s not going to be something I’m likely to take a pass on as a writing topic. If you want a spoiler alert on the matter, this is it. Don’t expect me not to go off on politics, folks. And don’t expect other creative/entertaining folks to be quiet about politics either, the next four years. That’s just not gonna happen.

9. Why, yes, I’m cranky on the subject of people trying to tell me — or other writers, creators and entertainers — to stop expressing opinions on politics and other social issues. People have been trying to do this for my entire professional writing life, which is 26 years now, and much of which has consisted of me being paid to have a goddamned opinion on things. I imagine it will continue, as people with fragile worldviews and/or monstrous senses of entitlement and/or a wildly misplaced sense of my desire for their input and/or simple, virulent passive-aggressiveness decide they need to tell me what and how and when to write, or not write.

And, folks. One: Are you my spouse or my editor? No? Then feel free to fuck right off. Two: You may have noticed I’m doing pretty well for myself with this whole writing thing. One secret to that is not listening to various randos telling me what to do, or what not to do, with my writing career. Three: Do you understand how boring and exasperating it is for me — or any writer, creator or entertainer — to have to deal with various randos telling us what to do or not to do? It’s really goddamn boring and exasperating! And maybe other folks who have to deal with this bullshit choose to be patient or quiet about this because they’re earlier along in their career, or they’re still under the impression that their career can be hurt by some rando telling them to shut up or else, or because they’re nicer than me, or because they’re not, like me, a well-off straight white dude so they actually have to worry about their randos being terrifying stalkery bigot assholes, especially now, when actual fucking Nazis are cracking off salutes like it’s 1933. All of those are fine reasons for them to be quiet about this shit.

But I am not them, so I’m pretty comfortable saying the following: Piss off, rando yutz, you’re boring me. After 26 years, you’re not going to find a way to tell me to shut up that I haven’t heard before and haven’t already offered a middle finger to. And after 26 years, I’ve run out of fucks to give on the matter. Tell me to stop writing about politics? Fuck you. Suggest that I shouldn’t write about politics? Fuck you again. Whine to me that you’re tired about me writing about politics? Fuck you a third time. There’s the door. Go.

10. Seriously, people, what do you think you’re doing when you tell a writer (or musician, or actor, or whomever) that they shouldn’t talk about politics, or social issues, or whatever? Do you believe they will genuinely think, “My god, this random person I don’t know has entirely changed my mind about expressing an opinion in public! I am so grateful”? I can’t speak for all creators everywhere, but anecdotally speaking, I can tell you that most of the creators I know do not think oh wow, this random person is so right. They think, what an asshole.

And maybe you are an asshole! Certainly there are any number of people who send me notes along the line lol shut up dude no one cares what you think, which aren’t meant to persuade, but just to try to insult or belittle me, and, well. That’s adorable. But if you didn’t intend to be an asshole, maybe consider a different strategy.

For example, a couple of years ago there was a Scottish entertainer I admired, so I followed their Twitter account, which turned out to be nothing but blathering about Scottish independence. Did I tell this entertainer to oh my God will you just stop talking about Scottish independence I don’t even care? No, I just stopped following their Twitter account. Because you can do that! There are whole swaths of creators and entertainers whose work I admire who I don’t follow on social media, or read their blogs, or otherwise track their lives because I know they care about things I don’t, or that I disagree with. There are other swaths of entertainers who I do follow, but when they get a bug up their ass about something I don’t care about, I skip over those topics. A writer I admire has gone on for years about vaping. I couldn’t give a shit about vaping; I think it’s a dumb thing to invest any brain cycles on. But they disagree! Good for them. I skip over the vaping rants. It’s really just that simple.

It’s okay to disagree, sometimes vehemently, with people whose work you admire. It’s all right to think they spend too much time on things you don’t care about. It’s fine to think to yourself or to tell others ugh why can’t they just get over that dumb thing I don’t care about. But the minute you go out of your way to tell them to shut up, no matter how “politely” you put it, you’re the asshole. Yes you are. And some of the people you’ve told to shut up will treat you like the asshole you’ve become.

I will, in any event. Fair warning.