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Old 07-30-2016, 10:46 PM   #1
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Default Confessions of a Former Apocalypse Survival Guide Writer

Confessions of a Former Apocalypse Survival Guide Writer

The first time I bid on a freelance job to ghostwrite a doomsday survival guide, I was only asked one question: Did I have experience writing for middle-aged Republican men? I told the client that I had experience writing for a wide variety of ages and political affiliations, which was noncommittal enough to be true.

The client said, “Sounds good, bro.”

We were off to the races.

It was 2009, and a surprisingly high number of people thought society might collapse in 2012, on or around December 21, in accordance with a supposed doomsday prediction in the Mayan long count calendar. (Unsurprisingly, this was not a view held by many scholars of Mesoamerican culture.) The film 2012, which concerns itself with the same subject matter, came out the same year. This was to be the basis for our apocalypse guide, my first. I'd just quit my full-time job and wanted to try my hand at ghostwriting, and this particular job listing was right at the top of the search results on a freelancing website. It certainly sounded more entertaining than most of the other job listings.

I didn’t know anything about the client, let’s call him Dimitri, other than that he lived in Florida, and that he had about $600 for me if I could pump out 100 pages on how to survive the end of the world. The only way to make a living on writing projects at these prices is to do them quickly. In some cases, freelancers are asked to “spin” extant books—that is, to essentially copy the structure and content of those books but to make them new enough to reasonably (and legally) market them as new products. This is related to, but still distinct from the practice of article spinning, in which the same human-written article is quickly reorganized and reworded to create one or more additional “new” articles. (This is often done by software that has a built-in spintax that replaces keywords in the text with synonyms.)

I had no particular survival expertise, but I could regurgitate reliable reference materials as well as anyone else.

I set to work. My plan was to keep the fringe thinking to a minimum and just provide basic entry-level survival information: ways to purify and store water, what foods worked well for stockpiling, signaling and first aid techniques, methods of cooking without electricity, and so forth. I had no particular survival expertise, but I could regurgitate reliable reference materials as well as anyone else.

Ultimately, with that first guide as well as future guides, I was always asked to include more extreme material. “That’s what the audience really wants,” I was told by another client.

But you don’t generally thread it throughout the entire guide. In the case of the 2012 guide, for example, I was eventually asked to explain the Nibiru cataclysm theory but to avoid addressing it until the last chapter. That’s because when the world didn’t end in 2012—and at least part of Dimitri knew it wouldn’t—you’d be able to easily take out the section on Nibiru theory and insert a new chapter about whatever the hot new doomsday theory is, which these days appears to be the threat of an electromagnetic pulse.


The first book went off without a hitch. After that, it became easy enough to get additional projects. I wrote seven over the course of about six months, and my name appears on none of them.

For a while they became my primary source of income, and every single time I was hired by a company that catered to the survivalist market, not a traditional publisher. Each time, the company’s name would be listed instead of an author. There are thousands of prepping guides available on Amazon right now— 2,849 in the “Survival and Preparedness” category alone and 4,214 matches for the keyword “prepper” across categories—and only a small percentage are produced by dedicated book publishers. Companies that sell survivalist products and services produce the lion’s share, and on any given day, if you peek at freelancing sites like Upwork, you’ll see at least a couple of ghostwriting projects dedicated to survivalism being advertised.

More http://motherboard.vice.com/en_uk/re...source=popular
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Old 08-02-2016, 12:08 PM   #2
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That was a good piece. I enjoyed it.

Fairly accurate though as he says so plainly himself he's not part of the "community."

There came a time when I decided that unless it had some material bearing on HOW the person should prep we were both better off if they didn't tell me WHY they were prepping. Some folks are simply barking mad. Others so focused on whatever their favorite scenario was they were blind to genuine real-world threats that had some real probability of actually occurring. Made me happier anyway.

When the folks at Zetatalk asked if they could use some of my material I said they could. They asked nicely (many never asked at all, but plagiarized me) and were willing to put in the verbiage about "the permitted use of the author's material should not be construed as the author's belief in a given scenario."

And then I find myself asking the logical next question: Do they really believe that? I don’t think that they do. But they’re hedging their bets anyway.

However, I submit that disaster preparedness is not inherently a fool’s game and that the kind of prepper described I just described is not the definitive picture. The Red Cross, for example, sells bug-out bags, a staple of any prepper’s gear. How crazy is it to follow the Red Cross’s preparedness advice? Not very. And so much about doomsday prepping is about just having a plan, something most people don’t have.

Catastrophes do occur with regularity—think Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Sandy, to name a few—and when they do, there's much to be said for having your own preparations in place as opposed to relying completely on government intervention and large-scale relief efforts. People do fall through the cracks, and working out ways to take your fate into your own hands is a useful exercise in self-reliance.

But there’s a fine line between being prepared and being paranoid, and when The Shit Hits the Fan, we’ll all be better off if we’re a little more prepared and a lot less paranoid. It's not always easy to tell the difference.
This is really what it comes down to. The Mayan Calendar apocalypse may not happen. Y2K may not be the disaster you thought it would be. A full-scale nuclear war may never happen. Whatever scenario you were sure was going to come about might not.

But seeing as how all prepping shares about 90% of the same supplies, skills, mindset in common if you're prepped for one chances are you're going to be fairly ready for whatever really does happen. Because chances are it WON'T be what you were expecting if ever it does hit the fan.

I am of the belief that at least a quarter of the population (you choose the country) will never prep or even take seriously that disaster can directly impact them no matter what they see in the news or in the movies. They will willfully disbelieve (or simply never realize) it can happen to them until whatever it is that comes along kills them.

The great bulk of the remaining population can be reached to a greater or lesser extent. When the threat becomes clear enough they will begin to act. Many stupidly, some intelligently, a very few quite shrewdly. The last little bit of population will be the ones at the bleeding, leading edge who are going to go over that edge so far gone into preparing that the failure of the disaster they are preparing against BECOMES the disaster in itself. Their unprepped neighbors didn't end up having to drink dog piss from rusty hubcaps and it ruins them.

As always it comes down to the individual. In order to get that vast bulk in the middle to do *anything* it's going to push that tiny leading edge over the cliff while the tail end will be wondering what's going on as the disaster kills them.

It has always been thus.
Chance favors the prepared mind.
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Old 08-03-2016, 04:11 PM   #3
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Fuzzy Hubby was a born and bred Southern California boy. Taught well by his father that earthquakes were a known hazard, and you were stupid if you weren't prepared for one.

So when we moved to Oregon and were house-hunting, he asked if the houses we were looking at were secured to their foundations. For those who aren't in earthquake prone areas, this is because during the shaking of an earthquake, an unsecured house can slide right off its foundation.

You would have thought we'd sprouted extra heads! What were we thinking? That's never done up here in the Pacific North Wet! An earthquake like that could never happen here!

Well, it took us awhile, and Fuzzy Hubby even climbed under a few houses to make sure we weren't being lied to, (a couple of times, we were) we found our house. Anchored to the foundation. Out of any flood zones short of Noah. Out of historical lava flow directions for Mt. Hood. Out of liquefaction zones and on solid granite. Best we could do.

And funny, the past 10 years, everyone's been talking about being prepared for "The Big One" here in the PNW. Guess we weren't that silly after all.


P.S. Gigglesnort at Alan for that "dog piss out of a rusty hub cap" reference. Haven't heard that in years. :LOL:
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