Why I respect Jay Lake

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.

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5 thoughts on “Why I respect Jay Lake

  1. I very recently discovered Jay, through his blog, and I, too, am amazed by his work ethic and drive. The man clearly has earned every ounce of his success. I’m about 40 pages into his novel Mainspring, and I’ve got to say it — this guy’s probably one of the best writers I’ve ever read. His bibliography is staggering, and I look forward to trying to read as much of it as I can.

    The fact that he is an Atheist adds an interesting dimension to his “Clockwork” Victorian England saga, which is — unless I’m just completely wrong — a metaphorical play on the ‘Clockmaker’ argument for the existence of God, which argues that Creation itself is proof enough of a ‘Creator’. A somewhat hollow argument in and of itself, but it does somehow ring true to what humanity knows of the world. Philosophy is full of incomplete arguments, but many of them are chock-full of intellectual value.

  2. Yeah, I’m not the biggest fan of the “your experience doesn’t matter or inform your opinions because of X” (X being something you can’t control) crowd. Sorry to hear they are still banging on Jay 😦

    You’d think fighting cancer while keeping writing career going would be tough enough… geez.

  3. The kind of “racial awareness” these people are peddling is — in my opinion — a form of spiritual, emotional, and mental poison. Again, they make enemies out of those who are their ideological allies. I think Will Shetterly is correct. It’s very much like a cult. If people like myself and Lake can be branded “racist” by this group… Well, I don’t worry about them anymore unless I see them being out-and-out, deliberate assholes to someone who doesn’t deserve it. And Jay doesn’t deserve it.

  4. Well said. I don’t know Jay Lake either, but I admire him enormously.

    Friends of mine simply call the Wiscon Anti-racists “Maoists.” Since I’m a socialist, I think that’s especially apt: I agree with their goal of diversity, but their tactic is, to put this as politely as possible, as wrong as wrong can be.

  5. Yeah, it’s always troubling to me when I see people using hostility as a tactic to combat inequality or to alleviate conflict. Doesn’t make a damn bit of sense, but people sure try it a lot.

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