Mar. 22nd, 2011

naomi_jay: (Objection)
I don't want to be ranty or anything (I'm exhausted, and therefore prone to emotional outbursts like "I do do the washing up! Just not always on the same day I say I will!"*) but something happened yesterday that really annoyed me, and I've been stewing over it ever since. Apparently an author who'd contributed a story to Static Movement altered his contract to give himself one copy of the anthology he was in. Now, Static Movement are very upfront about being a "for the love" market. No payment, no contributor's copy. You as a writer are perfectly entitled to think that's not fair and therefore not submit your work there. But if you do submit your work there, or any other such non-paying market, you are not entitled to alter your contract to reflect what's "standard" elsewhere.

I've seen in several places recently discussions over whether authors should ever work for free. I've seen the arguments for and against, and there are valid ones on both side. If writing is your living, of course you should seek payment for it. If you put in hours, weeks, maybe years of work to produce the best book you possibly can, of course you should seek payment for it. That's your right. But don't say things like "if you don't write for payment, you're devaluing the work of writers everywhere," because I think that's bullshit.

I think it's bullshit (sorry, Dad, but sometimes swearing is appropriate) for two reasons. Firstly, "payment" to me does not always equal "money." Secondly, my reasons for writing are nothing to do with anyone else. If I choose to write for free, that doesn't affect any other writer I know. And I do write for free, a lot - or at, least I don't always get monetary compensation for my writing.

I write a monthly horoscope column for a local magazine. In exchange I get a nice bottle of wine every now and then (two at Christmas!) and I get my name and website printed in that magazine every month. The mag also ran a competition to give away a copy of AFTERLIFE in 2009.

I write a monthly horoscope column for Queered Fiction too. In exchange, I've been able to call on my editor there to format my Kindle books for me - something I have no idea how to do and no inclination to learn. I'm not a techie person, and I'd much rather leave something that important to someone who can definitely turn out a wonderful finished product than try to muddle through on my own.

As is probably well-known, I contribute a lot of stories to Static Movement, and am editing a couple of anthologies there, for free. I do it because I love writing and sharing my work, because I enjoy editing and seeing other people's work, and because I like being part of an enthusiastic and growing writers' community. And, of course, as a result of working with/for Static Movement, I have stories out there in thirteen different print anthologies. I'm quite pleased with that.

I'm not saying everyone should write for free. It's an issue that's the same as whether you should go indie, seek an agent, or keep your writing for yourself. In other words, every writer is different and has different reasons for writing. A lot of people will probably think I'm wasting stories I could find paying homes for by sending them to non-paying markets. But you know what? I'll write a lot more stories, so that doesn't matter to me. One day I'll compile all these stories into one volume and put it up for sale.

What I am saying is that it's ridiculous to submit to a very obviously non-paying market, then stomp when you don't get paid. And it's downright unprofessional to just start altering your contracts.

*True story. Happened last night. Still haven't done the washing up.
naomi_jay: (stewie)
So we're eating our dinner and watching Castle and otherwise minding our own business, when there's this knock on the door. Kyle answers and there's a couple there with a spaniel that we've never seen before (we'd never seen the couple or the spaniel, just to clarify). And when ensued was a conversation a bit like this:

Couple: Hello, we're from Number 15. Are you missing a snake?

Us: YES! YES WE ARE! WE ARE MISSING A SNAKE! DO YOU HAVE OUR SNAKE? YOU HAVE OUR SNAKE!!!

And then the spaniel started barking and there was a conversation about anime, but the upshot was... These people had Ket. They had our snake. OMG. What are the chances? It's been six months since he escaped, yet a group of kids found him today on our front lawn. They called an adult who took Ket in, put him in a nice tank, and started asking around. What are the odds of any of that happening? I can only think that Ket's been in the house somewhere all winter, and the recent warmer weather got him moving. I am so unbelievably grateful that those kids did the sensible, kind thing instead of ignoring or tormenting Ket, as they could easily have done.

So he's home! My Number One Snake is home. He's bigger. He seems quite sluggish, but I guess he's had a busy day. We've bathed him, we're going to feed him tomorrow, and get him to the vet on Friday. And on Saturday we are damn well buying some snake locks for his tank.

It's so weird... I dreamed on Sunday night that we found him. And I was thinking today that all these nice, small things keep happening to me at the moment. Nothing life-changing, but just little things that make me pause and feel thankful. And this, this is incredible. Of all the things I excepted when we got that knock at the door, Ket coming home was the last of them.



But I am very, very grateful to my neighbours and their spaniel.

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Dirty Little Whirlwind

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