My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Mailbox: This Unseemly Money Stuff/Literary Events

Isn't this money stuff a little unseemly? Why don't you get involved in the literary community.  

[Remember, keep sending in your questions to chris.brecheen@gmail.com with the subject line "W.A.W. Mailbox" and I will answer them each Friday.  I will use your first name ONLY unless you tell me explicitly that you'd like me to use your full name or you would prefer to remain anonymous.  My comment policy also may mean one of your comments ends up in the mailbox. I've also been known to write excellent non-snark replies to non-URFACESUX questions.     

Anonymous Asks:

Your blog has a lot of ads.  Plus you have your tip jar.  And you constantly beg for money.  Now you've started adding these product ads to some of your entries. [Writer's note: Google no longer has affiliate ads.]  Don't you find all this a little unseemly?  

My reply:

More unseemly than my obsession with threesomes and casual use of the word "choadmonkey"?

Look, the short answer is that Writing About Writing is totally free.  It will always be totally free.  You never have to donate a dime.  You never have to click on an ad. Ever. You don't even have to turn off your adblock or share a post or recommend me to your friends or "+1" or "like" or "upvote" or anything. You can just keep reading and being entertained without ever giving back and laugh at Baby Jesus's tears, and enjoy their sweet, sweet taste.

The little guy has seen worse--I promise.

That means that over time you get my wit and wisdom (such as it is), entertainment (such as it is), and even my short fiction (such as IT is) without paying anything. Ever. If this website takes off, I may even consider offering my longer fiction as free PDF's, serial posts, or something, instead of trying to get them published through traditional routes. At the very least, I will investigate e-publishing that can go out to readers for as cheap as I can reasonably make it. I just want to write creatively and maybe pay some bills doing it. I don't care how that happens.

Too many people I've talked to--talented and extraordinary writers who are WAY better than me--were (and have been) writing their whole lives and never making a dime at it because they insist upon only one possible way of monetizing their writing--traditional publishing, which is getting harder and harder to break into every year. So I made a choice about HOW I'd like to go about making this into a career. I did my homework. I read up. I took a calculated risk on online stuff.

Now I could just shop my work around and find anthologies and beg all my friends and family to buy them like writers of my mom's generation had to and many still do today. Then maybe I could have published a book and done the same. And maybe I even get a following and make some money doing that.  But at the end of the day in that scenario, you would HAVE to pay to read what I write. (Or be a scummy pirate-theif who steals shit off the internet by telling yourself it doesn't hurt anyone.)

But this way, you only pay if you think I'm worth supporting.

That seems like a pretty good deal to me. Turn off the adblocker if you want .  Click on ads for stuff if you like what you see. Donate if you feel like I've kept you entertained.  Socially network if you would like to see me expand.

And do nothing if you want.  It's okay.  It really doesn't bother me. ~single tear~

I have three whorish ad slots, one of which you probably never see unless you habitually scroll all the way down to the whorish bottom of the screen. I don't beg, but simply whorishly mention the fact that my "Tip Jar" is there to be used should people wish to contribute. All this unmitigated "whorishness" has added up to a little over $80.00 since I started in February.

So..."unseemly"? No, not really. Unseemly is a lot more profitable.

Matt asks: 

Why Don't You Get Involved In the Literary Community and Do Readings and Stuff?

My reply:

Mostly because I'm an introvert and a highly visual person.

I think literary readings are awesome! They keep writers pumped about writing. They celebrate words. They involve a lot of laughter and joy. And they help form some networking connections. They are great social events, and some people love them. They almost never have zombie, veloceraptor, or werewolf attacks. One of my friends--the illustrious Matthew DeCoster, who was in school with me (and was one of the few "serious" ones)--is very into the whole readings scene and is even organizing one of the events for Litquake in San Francisco next week. It's called Write On!  Writers to Know.  He's published.  He's a "real" writer. And he loves the shit out readings.

Seriously, I'm not sure it's entirely healthy.

More power to him! I love watching him get excited and post all over Facebook with infectious energy, even if by now, he knows when I say I'll try to make it to the next one, my planning lobe is probably writing checks my sociability can't cash.

However, if I gathered up the fifty or so books I own by household-name authors who have written some kind of advice-for-writers book and made a list of all their advice, going to readings wouldn't be on there. It's not that it can't be wonderful, totally fun as shit, and even useful. It might even be a decent place to hook up a threesome or an editor and I'm all for either of those! And if you hook up a editor threesome...holy SHIT! It's just that readings aren't necessary for a writer to succeed. If readings rock your world and motivate you, do them. Whatever works, remember?  But if they're not so much your thing, then don't worry that you're missing out on the single best opportunity for exposure in your fledgling career or something.

Most readings are social events where the people gathered just happen to do what they like.  It's fun, enjoyable, and better than going to a bar where the music is too loud. ("I get to drink AND listen to writing???  SCORE!!!") The bar or bookstore venue usually does pretty well (which is why they're happy to host), and the event often makes enough to keep itself going (possibly even with some high level organizational staff pulling a modest paycheck), but the writers don't get paid and will probably end up buying a few drinks or books or both before the evening is out. A published writer might sell a few copies of something if they are allowed to set up merchandising, but it's not going to be a cash cow. Unless you are the keynote guest reader, you probably aren't going to sell so many books that you are missing a major opportunity.

So go if you want to go. Go if that's your thing. Don't go because you think that's what a writer ought to do.

It's a lot like putting garlic in your food--except the people are probably hotter, and there's reading, and you might get drunk, and....okay, it is not really anything like putting garlic in your food.

I am a quiet person. I don't like to go out. I stay in with the cat and read most Saturday nights.  I don't like a lot of strangers crowded into my personal space. I drink perhaps twice a year, and usually something with an umbrella and a neon coloring that I'd be embarrassed to be seen sipping in public. I'm not a bar person, or a crowd person.

I am also a highly visual person. I am really bad at picking up on language when I'm only hearing it. It slides right back out of my brain by dripping out the opposite ear. I need to see the words to absorb them, and I end up losing focus when someone is just reading. I love published authors' readings because I can bring the book and read along, but when someone is just reading a draft of something they're working on, I usually just go glassy eyed. So I'm not a bar person, a crowd person, or a listeny person.

That's really it. Readings are great. They're just not my scene.


  1. When my first boyfriend dumped me I had no idea where to meet new people. He suggested I go somewhere where there were guys with similar interests. So I went to a creative writing reading. Everyone there was 10+ years older than me and I sat in the back in introverted terror of someone talking to me. Good times./sarcasm

    1. Yeah, it does tend to be a post grad/MFA type crowd in most places I've seen it.

      Fortunately now you know...not only that it's not your thing, but also not to let recent exes suggest cruising spots.

  2. "They almost never have zombie, veloceraptor, or werewolf attacks."

    But the best ones do!