Wednesday, July 10, 2013

On Writing, Money, and Supporting Creators

Some people say that money changes a person; and now that I am asking folks to spend their hard earned coin for my writing, I am certain that the adage is a reality. If nothing else, the idea of money has changed me (or is "changing in me"), but I believe it is for the better. Now that I am asking others to compensate me as a producer, I feel more weight to compensate others as a consumer, even though every nickel I get feels like it's worth ten times that.

I realized this after borrowing Christopher Moeller's excellent JLA: A League of One from our local library. Reading it was one of the most harrowing and enjoyable experiences that I have ever had with a graphic novel. The work stunned me in terms of both art and writing; and afterward, I not only wanted to recommend it but felt an obligation to support its creator financially as soon as possible for the experience he had given me (thanks to birthday money, I have been able).

Throughout my life, I've consumed media, but my relationship to supporting it financially has been selfish. Sure, I have sought to purchase the work of those I know simply to support them as a friend, but when it came to artists who I did not know, I never gave much thought to their financial well-being; frankly, I assumed that if they were published in any medium that they were making a decent middle-class living (silly me). In the past when I would have such pleasurable occasions as the one I above described, I would have made a purchase but for wholly different reasons: I wanted to recapture my experience or variations of it. That was the goal, to buy it for my own gratification. But with this book, I was so pleased that I wanted to make the purchase to show the author my gratitude, to support him directly.

That's one side of the coin, but let's flip it. Given that I am making a few bucks here and there on my book, I am recognizing just how fortunate I am for each nickel I get. I recently purchased two tickets to see Man of Steel, and I thought to myself, "How many books did I have to sell to pay for this?" It was a strange moment, but it was also a true moment. Money is not just coming to me in a paycheck because I showed up for an employer and performed a predetermined function--these nickels came directly from people putting their faith and trust in me as a writer, and inasmuch as that's encouraging, it is a heavier responsibility than I have felt writing previosuly. The longing to create work of excellence is always at the forefront of my mind, but the fact that I am charging people to enjoy it raises the bar that much higher. The bottom line is this: every penny from Stronghold is a gift and a symbol of trust, and my hope is that each reader feels that I have deserved it. 

It's an interesting dichotomy that's formed: seeking financial remuneration for my writing has imbued me with a desire to financially support those whose work I value, even if I am being more careful about how my money is spent. This feels altogether strange but also appropriate--as if I should have had this mindset my entire life but lost it somewhere on the road. Of course, the reason it has only come to me now is clear: I'm a fellow compatriot in the struggle to create work that communicates and reveals goodness, truth, and beauty, and as such, I am now responding to authors in the way I hope my readers would respond to me--that they would have an experience they felt warranted the money they spent.

Any fellow creative types out there have similar experiences?

Thanks for reading,

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