Most longtime readers know of my fascination with the guitar. Many of you also know that I’m working on a book about guitar players. One of the most interesting musicians I’ve encountered in a while is John 5. I’ve spent the morning listening to his new instrumental disc The Art of Malice and I’m amazed at the contrast between the man and his work.
Now, most of you aspiring authors and publishing folks out there are probably thinking, “I don’t wear psycho clown makeup and I’m not into medieval torture devices. What does this have to do with me?”
The reason I think John 5 is relevant to our subject matter here at Slushpile.net is the way he manages to be humble and hardworking while also being noticeably different.
John is most famously associated with Marilyn Manson and his current gig in Rob Zombie’s band. That he plays pretty heavy music shouldn’t come as a shock. But he toured with K.D. Lang, recorded with Avril Lavigne, and worked with Lynard Skynard as well. And one of his biggest influences is the old seventies country music television show Hee Haw.
One of the reasons he gets such great, and diverse, gigs is that he shows up on time, knows his material, and supports the musician. Sounds simple enough. But it’s amazing how many musicians allows ego, pride, and other issues to get in the way.
As writers, we should also strive to build a reputation as being easy to work with. Make your deadlines. Do your research. Turn in clean copy. Once again, sounds simple enough. But too many aspiring authors sabotage themselves with attitude and poor work ethics.
John 5 also keeps a good separation between his work outlets. When he is recording for an artist, their needs are at the forefront. A fan asked John is he is always pushed or challenged with the work he does for other musicians. “Absolutely not,” he quickly replied. “But that’s okay. It’s their music. I’m there to support them.” But when he works on his solo projects, such as the The Art of Malice he allows himself the opportunity to pursue his passions. The record contains bits of country music, bluegrass, and even some flamenco-inspired tunes to round out the heaviness.
Once again, as writers, we can learn something from this separation. When you are writing an article for the local entertainment weekly, then you are working for them. Use their style, follow their instructions. When you sit down to work on your masterpiece, then you can indulge yourself a bit.
All of these are obvious lessons. But we all need to be reminded of them now and then. I’ve often heard editors and publishers say their jobs would be great if it weren’t for the writers. Just keep these basic qualities in mind and you’ll never be considered one of “those” guys.
Now, if you can just learn some cool makeup tips for your author photos, you’ll be all set!