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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Artistry For Free?

Core concepts initially appeared as comments on Nick Daw’s Writing Blog.

Life would be a pervasive shade of grayscale without creative expression. Artistry has extensive and intrinsic value; however, this understanding has been lost when it comes to certain forms of written art.

The responsibility lies mainly with writers of poetry, short stories and articles. I suspect part of the problem is too many of us view our creativity as sideline contributions. Thus, we give too much talent away when offered a chance to participate in the publishing game and then expect to be fairly compensated when we turn pro. How many novels are published for free? How many screenplays are flooding the free market? How many tailors give away clothes? How many paintings are simply handed over? How many wood carvers whittle away just because someone wants their creation?

Artists should be paid. Venues that do not pay writers have every right not to. Writers who are not hobbyists should carefully weigh the long-term benefit of exposure and perceived prestige of a publication against their creative output’s ability to create input for their own bank book. The minute we give our writing away and it appears in a publisher’s showroom, the value plummets like a new car driven around the corner. Yet, our continued willingness to give our property and rights away has created a feeding frenzy on one end of the talent pool by non-paying markets while at the other end media machines pick and choose. Who can live off exposure? Exposure by itself is far less sustaining than love which, even at its best, love hardly puts food on the table.

In my infancy and ignorance, yes, I have given foolishly. Granted, not everyone wants to get paid or seeks satisfaction the same way. For those of us who want to earn a living using our talents, we must stop undervaluing our blessings in any form and any length. The beauty and value of art are not limited to our age, experience, training, credits, goals, culture, form, formulas, panels of judges or editors, etc. A beauty of art is that it transcends every man-made constriction, even the artist, because it flows from a spiritual gift which is forever equal in all respects to any other manifestation of the spirit. A value of art is its renewable ability to connect with us in pure places and transfer meaning across the space between lives. The only real difference in art is, not everything is for everyone; but, let’s let this be decided individually, freely.

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  1. I have thought about this very idea before. There are times when my work goes to non-paying venues for a variety of reasons, but submission to paying venues and non-paying venues is not mutually exclusive.

    I always like to see other writers' takes on this. Thank you!

  2. Thanks for pointing me to this. My husband and I were discussing this last nite. Good points.


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