I don’t know Jay Lake personally. I’ve sat in on and listened to one or two of his panels at Norwescon — when he was still physically healthy enough to attend — and I’ve exchanged with him a bit on his blog. Politically and philosophically, Jay Lake and I stand rather far apart. We come at the world from rather different points of view.
But that’s never stopped Jay from being civil to me, nor me from being civil to him. Our brief interactions have always been cordial, and while I do believe that Jay holds certain aspects of my personal worldview in contempt — categorically — I’ve never detected that Jay made it personal. I respect that. We have too little of that in our modern political discourse. I am always refreshed to come across anyone who can hold very different opinions from me — yes, even heated opinions — and at the end of the conversation still offer me an honest handshake. For lack of a better word, that’s gentlemanly.
Moreover, Jay Lake has what I’d call a truly ferocious writers’ ethic. I respect that even more. The man is iron-clad hard, when it comes to putting his butt in the chair and getting the work done. Even while he’s descended through the nine hells of cancer treatment — and all the emotional and physical backwash which accompanies it. I marvel at how much Jay has been able to produce, and is able to produce, and like to point to him as a sterling example of why aspirants should focus on determination and willpower — beyond almost everything else — when they’re getting started. Because determination and willpower do seem to be 90% of being and staying a published fiction writer.
Don’t believe me? Consider this — Jay has well over a thousand rejections. And counting. The man simply refuses to quit. Even when the rejections keep coming — rejections don’t stop even for published and well known spec fic novelists or short story writers. So whatever else Jay might be, he is absolutely not a quitter. And whatever people might think of him politically or philosophically, if you’re a writer, I think you have to respect Jay’s stick-to-it track record. He built that record through long hours and tons of work, and you have to respect work.
Which is why I was greatly pissed off to learn that Jay has recently been the target of some rather unfair and particularly nasty commentary. The instigators of this nonsense are familiar to me. One of them being someone I’ve chosen to call the Omarosa of Science Fiction. I find it telling that these individuals are in such a huge hurry to make an enemy out of someone –Jay — who is, ideologically, their natural ally.
Alas, Jay apparently failed the litmus test of the Church of NuRashulPolitik. Seems like all of us can’t help but fail that litmus sooner or later. Which is why I consider the NuRashulPolitik to be an ass-bag of smelly orthodoxies, shibboleths, and gnosticistic blather, surrounding a festering core of emotional disturbance which no amount of placating can sate.
Hopefully Jay rolls with it, and moves on. He certainly has more to worry about on his plate at this time than whether or not he’s in good standing with a noisy, fragmentary satellite community of SF fans and a tiny handful of writers who apparently have nothing better to do than insult, mock, put down, and belittle a good person.
Hang tough, Jay. I know you don’t believe in God, but I’ve said a prayer or three for you anyway. You’ve got my respect, and the respect of a lot of other people too.