The post said something about how, oftentimes, when you tell someone you meet you’re a writer, they ask: “Would I have heard of you?”
“How the fuck should I know? “
Okay, actually, I don’t think that was Joe’s post, but his was about going to the dentist and the dentist saying: “You’re a writer? I’ll expect a signed copy of your next book when it comes out. “
And Joe says: “Good, and I’ll expect a free root canal.”
Totally paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it.
I laughed and laughed.
A surprising number of people don’t understand that writers and musicians and painters are not waifish dilettantes flitting about , subsisting on flowers and good lighting. This is how we make our living.
Most people grasp that Adele and Stephen King have products in stores that can be bought, but seem to assume that, if they haven’t heard of those of us who are less well known, then our work cannot be bought, or is perhaps shitty and shouldn’t be bought.
Sometimes people tell me: Oh, after meeting you I went to the library and took out a copy of one of your books. I really enjoyed it. And then I loaned it to my entire family.
It’s a compliment, I suppose, but, really, can’t you just buy ONE of my books? They’re not all great, (I have them sort of categorized on my Facebook page) but they don’t cost more than a cappuccino and a muffin and they’ll make you feel things. I promise you that.
More and more, a lot of us do give our work away for free — or for whatever a person wishes to pay for it. We blog. We put up pay-what-you-wish downloads of our records. Etc.
See the indefatigable Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk, The Art of Asking. It’s part of why I finally decided, Fuck it, I’ll ASK!
All the industries behind the arts are in upheaval. I’m not going to snivel about it. The world changes, sometimes quite rapidly. That is one of the beautiful mysteries of being alive.
The writer Jon Katz muses on this sort of thing (and many other sorts of things) on his engaging blog Bedlamfarm.com.
It was seeing Jon Katz’s “Donate” button that was the final straw for me, that made me rip at the resistance I felt about ASKING. And I’ve installed a “Donate” button on this blog.
Nurture the things you love or they die.
I supported a documentary, 12 O Clock Boys, about dirt bike gangs in Baltimore. Now, thanks to all of us who gave Kickstarter contributions, the doc has been released and just won an award from HBO and will find its way to a larger audience.
I gave Amanda Palmer twenty bucks when I downloaded her most recent record. She’s given me more than my money’s worth between the music and the online persona. Her tireless willingness to keep putting herself and her work out there, no matter what, is inspiring.
So I think it’s okay to offer people the opportunity to donate to this blog.
I might die tomorrow. You might die tomorrow.
If you found one of my books in the stuff your ex left behind and read half of it then forgot it on a park bench, you could give me a dollar.
If you saw me on MTV when you were 15 and thought I was hot and put me in the spank bank for future masturbatory fodder, you could give me five dollars.
If you’re a high school student performing one of my poems in speech competitions, you could give me a dollar.
If you wonder how I’m going to keep from going to debtors prison before finishing my next novel, you could give me several dollars.
Or not. That’s fine too. You can just think nice things about me. In the yoga philosophy, they say this is really powerful. This thinking of nice things. I have found it to be true.
Which reminds me of one of my favorite Bob Holman poems:
You know things
And then, if you want, give me a dollar.