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

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Writing About Writing Disclaimers (Updated for 2023)

A few disclaimers 

1- Variations: they may occur in your mileage.

I'll try to hit the nuance when there is some. (Like the tension between the ableism of prescribing writing daily but the unlikelihood that one could be a working writer without doing exactly that.) But sometimes I'm answering the question that is right in front of me and not accounting for every person's very special (if absolutely legitimate) circumstances. Sometimes people––who maybe had a very legitimate and traumatic high school experience in a cookie cutter public education system in need of systematic and systemic indictment, and maybe even had a shitty teacher or eight––are not the people with the expertise to know HOW to teach or why literature pedagogy is what it is. And for fuck's sake almost everyone ever who insists that writing every day doesn't help have never actually tried it.

I'm THRILLED that there are a few MFA programs out there who've incorporated speculative fiction or that someone published their NaNo novel, and don't be afraid to chime in. But please remember that I've been doing this for DECADES, it is my DAY JOB, half my friends are working writers, and the presence of a few outlier cases does not undermine the broader points. 

I'm not saying you're wrong, but I usually know what I'm talking about.

2- I'm not very careful about images. 

It's hard to watch every other blog in the universe be cavalier about movie screenshots and copyrighted images (sometimes even going viral with movie gifs) and then use a picture of an old flip flop for your great Avengers quote because that's what Googled turned up as creative commons.

I've got a few places I check first, like the Creative Common Licence Flikr page or the "free to use (even commercially)" image search on Google. Some images seem to be allowed to be proliferated if properly cited on a non-profit blog. But I'm not as careful as I would be if I were hosting ads and making millions. Unless they are a picture OF me (or something around me), they are absolutely not mine, and I will never ever claim that they are. I put copyright info when I post commercial images and/or any time I can tell where they're from. I try my best, but the internet is a tangled thicket and not every image is watermarked (WHICH I WILL NEVER USE) and things are stolen and restolen so many times that it is sometimes impossible to know where they're from.

So if I'm using an image that is yours (or your client's), please just tell me how you'd like me to handle it. (I'll take it down. Give you credit. Make it a link back to your page. Apologize for my impudence. Write a post about how awesome you are for not making a federal case of it. Whatever*.)

Just don't expect me to fall for the licencing scam. This is not my first rodeo. I've got too many blogger friends at this point; I know that it's JUST a scam wearing a suit. (Amazing what you can find out with a quick search of the BBB.) You go ahead and take me to court and have fun trying to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a judge how much of my poverty-wage crowdfunded income from writing is due to your ONE image on the ONE post rather than my writing (or conversely that where I got your image from was clearly labeled as requiring a licence fee). I'm absolutely sure that will be worth it for you. Oh and by the way I'll be invoicing every hour I spend dealing with you at my top tier freelance rate for a counter-suit. Won't this be fun!

I really do try to avoid any image with a big flaming "Don't use my shit without permission" sign on the web page or a clear copyright watermark, or from companies I know don't give a crap if you give them proper credit, but sometimes I end up with such image through an intermediary with less regard. If I've used a image that I didn't know was stolen, I will do what it takes to make amends. And I will never pass off work that isn't mine as my own.

3-There will (probably) never be ads, but I might remind you of the tip jar and my Patreon once or twice a month-ish.

Writing About Writing is and will always be free. And these days we don't even have any ads. (Although technically I might put one up for a product I actually endorse.) But I'm a pretentious artistĂ© and I dream of writing paying for a small space to call my own. Twice every month-ish (once as a blog post and once as a post directly to social media), I'll write a post reminding people that if they want to support us, or if they want to get more and better content, we need to cover the bills without a 20-30 hour-a-week side gig. Through the generosity of readers, I've been able to quit teaching, stop driving all over the Bay Area to pet sit, and have some boundaries about how much I will nanny small children, but I'm still beholden to more hours of side giggery that could be spent making with the clackity clack. And beyond that, I would love to make improvements like professional design and admin help. As little as a single dollar a month (just $12 a year) through Patreon helps me to write more and gets you in on some private conversations about future projects.

4-In this blog, I mostly talk about creative writing, specifically fiction.

While the concerns of other genres of creative writing dovetail with fiction somewhat, and all writing in general has a few things in common (like words and periods and stuff), they are also quite different in form, content, style, and execution. Fiction is not journalism, and neither of those is technical writing. So if you are making a pretty goddamned decent living gritting your teeth through the boredom while writing instruction manuals for digital cameras and food processors, and wonder what the hell I'm on about when I talk about the high passion and low pay of a writing career, it's not because I think you're not a "real" writer. (You absolutely are!)  It's just because "Blogging about Fiction Writing" isn't as catchy of a title.

5-I am not very good at computer stuff.

Actually, that's like saying I kind of like pizza a little. I may have links that go nowhere or images that don't load. I can usually fix that stuff if you bring it to my attention. There are sometimes some weird formatting errors where it looks like some of the text is the wrong font or font size, and I can't seem to fix it, no matter what I do. I suppose there are people who know enough HTML that it would be no trouble for them, but I am not one of those people.

Some day when I'm making enough that I'm not side gigging to afford brand name peanut butter, I'm going to hire someone to clean things up. 

6-There might be some satire in here somewhere.  Maybe.

You should probably take a satire class if you don't know how to recognize it when you see it. The Onion offers some online correspondence courses that are top notch. I highly recommend them.

7- I try to keep to my update schedule but I also write in real time.

When I'm doing super awesome, I have a couple of articles in the hopper for days where I can't really get in front of the computer for hours. (Just so we're clear, of the crystalline variety, the last time that happened was 2013.) The pandemic has me further behind than normal, and a series of unfortunate events has befallen me in the last 18 months or so, so I'm hanging on by a thread most weeks. Some days there is an emergency  or I get sick or I'm just getting my ass kicked by my childcare hours. It's just me here and I still need a second job to pay all the bills. I'm doing the best I can. 

8- The Unforgiving Reality of "Making It" as a Writer

I write to a broad audience. Certain advice here at Writing About Writing (such as writing every day) is a panacea to all of the most common difficulties for which people often request advice. While questions about how to monetize a blog or publish a short story might have specific answers, general questions like how to "make it" or how to "improve" [which I get multiple times a day] all have the same basic answer. In fact, this question has the same basic answer in any of the arts (or any entertainment): practice. Musicians, sculptors, painters, actors, and writers––they all practice…often for years before they go public. And while gains can be made in any discipline with periodic or even sporadic practice, professional artists almost unswerving try to practice daily (or very nearly so). 

While I make every effort to acknowledge the ableism of prescribing daily writing without caveat, the grind of capitalism to make finding time to work on one's art difficult or impossible, or the absurdity of arbitrating the title of "real writer" on anyone, I cannot alter the fundamental realities of how demanding the journey will be to get better at art. Certainly not if the goal is to quit one's day job and survive capitalism by doing art, and absolutely not if one's goal is to be well beloved by, in the case of writing, the reading community. No one in any career––athlete, surgeon, chef, actor, or writer––will achieve the status of renowned in their field without a lot of long hours and probably more than a few weekends. Many household name writers write every day (or six days a week). [Just as many musicians practice every day and many painters sketch constantly.] Call it harsh advice or a hard pill to swallow or just a reality check. I can acknowledge that the obstacles, but I can't change the world in which those are the people who have what many would-be writers want. 

Please don't assume that I think everyone should or even CAN give this much dedication to their writing. I just don't know of any shortcuts to the things so often cited as goals. (Comfortable careers as working writers or legions of fans.) Also, most writers absolutely need to hear (over and over and over again) that their main problem is that they're NOT applying their asses to a chair and they further need the splash of cold water that they're not going to achieve those career-caliber dreams if they're putting in weekend warrior effort.

9- Comments are moderated. 

This is not the wild west. You are not entitled to say anything you want. Check my comment policy for more info. Even though that's technically for Facebook, it should give you an idea of how to comport yourself here.

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