August 3rd, 2014
I saw a tweet today where someone was having a moment about Kickstarters for “Help me Fund my Novel”. According to her, you can write novels for free and if you need money, you should get a job.
Well, okay. Not a technically incorrect statement, but I was curious as to why the judgey. As an author herself, I was a little surprised to see that amount of vehemence and pissy.
So I tried fishing for the reason behind their statement:
“I dunno. Go a bit the other way and people start arguing that writers should write for free, too.”
Which, I stand by that statement. Once you start talking about in which cases people should or should not be allowed to charge for their work or how and how not…it’s a slippery slope straight to “well, if you really loved doing it, you’d find a way to make it happen and to provide it for free”.
I’ve seen it — it gets ugly.
They responded with:
“Absolutely not. That’s entirely different. You write your novel yourself. You sell it for money. That’s how it works.”
At this point, I’m both amused and a little non-plussed by the vehemence and the almost dictatorial tone. So, there’s a correct and incorrect way to do it now?
Personally I’m not usually one to spend money on Kickstarters of that ilk, but I’m not against them either. In my opinion, if someone is capable of selling their unwritten book in such a way that makes people want to give them money, I don’t see the problem.
I wonder if she’s all right with people self-publishing — is there a correct way to do that too? Or is it simply incorrect because the gate-keepers have not opened the pearly gates of Author-dom to them and they have burrowed under the gates illicitly?
She responds with:
“Every writer I know wrote their novels while working a day job. We didn’t ask people to fund us. We just wrote and worked.”
…at this point I’m wondering if there’s some sort of “I did it the hard way, therefore everyone else should too” mentality going on and if their “how things should be done” extends to housewives/husbands who don’t have a day job and stay home and write.
Also, seriously? That’s a lot of able-ism going on.
Just because you managed to pull yourself up by your own damn bootstraps doesn’t mean everyone else should be obliged to. Especially since it’s not even like welfare or food stamps where her taxes were going to pay for it.
I have clinical depression, anxiety and a list of health problems — I find it
really hard impossible to cope as a working adult, much less managing to write on top of that.
When I work full-time, the job gets done, but laundry/feeding the self/cleaning doesn’t necessarily happen. If I magically find enough spoons to make sure that I’m behaving in an adult fashion, writing is simply not going to happen.
Even during the summer when my job goes on hiatus, I can either write or I can be an adult who gets her chores/laundry/cooking done. I do not have the energy to do it all. If I had children, I don’t think much of anything would be going on at all. The child would get fed and changed and that’d be all.
I find it offensive for someone to make blanket sweeping statements like that and to be so judgmental about what other people can or cannot do with their lives.
Life’s short; you never know what is going to happen in the next moment. Is it truly so unacceptable to say: “I have a dream to finish a novel / write full-time and I’m not currently capable of it on my own while I’m engaged in subsistence living, so I’m going to ask for help”?
I would never presume to tell someone, so long as they’re not hurting anyone, that how they’re choosing to prioritize things in their life are wrong. Besides, I kinda wanted to come back with: “So, what if it was a cancer patient who has only so long left to live and they don’t want to spend the time in the rat race and instead wanted to fulfill their dream instead”? And if she’s okay with that, how is that different from anyone else?
A plane could crash into your house. An earthquake could collapse your life. You could get hit by a car crossing the road. You could choke on something and die.
Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing. Especially not life and what you get to do with your time.
I mention something about patrons and she comes back with: “I would never ask anyone for money to do something I know I can do for free.”
SWEEPING GENERALIZATIONS ARE SWEEPING, GAIZ! There are many things one could do for free. It doesn’t mean that asking money for it shouldn’t happen, especially when holding someone up at gun/knife point isn’t happening.
So I ask her: “Do you have a similar reaction to people who live off their partners while attempting to create art?”
She responds with: “As long as they’re not crowd funding something that costs no extra money to create, then no.” and “Simply this. You don’t need someone else’s money to write your book. It makes zero sense to crowd fund it. It costs nothing.”
At this point I really don’t know what her problem is. It is increasingly seeming like she just really doesn’t like the idea of someone having it easier than she had it.
Also, lady, opportunity cost is still cost.
Also, your partner’s money is …your partner’s money? Not yours?
Me: “JOOC, how is one more morally/ethically/whatever acceptable than the other?”
Her: “A private decision between couples and crowd-funding a novel which is free to write seem different to me. I don’t get the question.”
… this is where I get the impression that this conversation is not going to go anywhere useful for anyone at any point. My thought is that if she objects to someone being supported through creating art by someone else, then she should theoretically also object to someone staying home and writing instead of getting a day job.
Apparently not, because despite the Kickstarter not somehow magically roofie-compelling people to pay them money, it is less acceptable despite Kickstarter backers probably have a less emotionally fraught relationship with the Kickstarter owner.
I’ve seen people get emotionally manipulated into doing things “for love” and I’ve seen people who emotionally abuse the people who depend on them while creating art and so I’m really not convinced that one is a “cleaner” concept than the other.
She then comes back with: “I’m sure these people who work from home and write are also doing other things besides writing. Like raising children.”
…not always? And does this mean she’d judge those who didn’t have children and had the gall to stay home and
write eat bonbons all day?
Her: “Simply this. You don’t need someone else’s money to write your book. It makes zero sense to crowd fund it. It costs nothing.”
….okay. Again, opportunity cost is cost. And again, what is easy/possible for you isn’t necessarily easy/possible for another.
We then go back and forth a couple more times where I ask her why one is morally acceptable and the other isn’t and she says it’s not about the morality of it.
Well jeez, if right/wrong isn’t involved, why are your panties in a bunch? Do you go around policing people on how they raise their children, do their job, wear their clothing, etc? Or do you get similarly pissed when restaurants mark up soda from the pennies it takes to make to a couple of dollars?
Finally, from her: “It’s not necessary to crowd fund something that costs no money to make. The end.”
I let her flounce because it wasn’t going anywhere and I didn’t/don’t actually want to get into a pissing contest online. Before, I genuinely just wanted to figure out what her rationale was and once it became clear that she wasn’t anything close to being logical about it, there was no point in getting riled about it.
It’s just frustrating the same way it’s frustrating that feminists/moms can’t get along. I thought the whole writer divide re: self-pub and trad pub was silly enough, but this is just depressing.
This whole conversation makes me really, really sad. I would have thought that a fellow artist would have understood the value of allowing someone their dream, irrelevant of what/whether they end up producing as a result.