Wil Wheaton and Not Writing for Free

I won’t commit idea theft myself, so Wil Wheaton‘s original post is here. Here’s an opinion on Slate.

English: Wil Wheaton at a San Diego Comic-Con ...

English: Wil Wheaton at a San Diego Comic-Con panel for The Guild in July 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I agree with both views. I offer what I write free on this blog; what I’m writing for Exploits of a Midnight Traveler is also free — but no one is being paid for it.

In the case of Huffington Post, however, the site is valued at 53 million dollars. It makes money off the advertising that it sells on every post it puts.

Telling people that it can’t pay them is silly. Saying that it is free publicity and exposure… that’s offensive. Will it offer beads and rags  too?

When someone is making profit from your work, you should be paid for it too. PERIOD. A restaurant doesn’t give away food in return for word of mouth (unless you’re a published food critic); a  non-Olympic athlete won’t play for a team solely out of love for their sport; why, then, is it OK for an artist to work for free?

I write RPG products to make money. My novels will sell on Amazon. I’ll give away a story to help to build up my email list… I don’t write these things without a purpose to benefit to myself.

Free exposure is not it.

Space Opera — What is It?

This is a genre that’s existed for decades, but it’s often misunderstood.
It was considered as Science Fiction in the 1950s, the Golden Age of Science Fiction, but it’s really a form of Science Fantasy. There are many worlds of aliens, in fact hundreds, which gave it the veneer of science fiction. How it no longer fits it:

There are myriad inhabited worlds, often within the same systems. Science shows us that’s not the case, without major terraforming. That is a concept that didn’t exist in those early days.
Entire worlds often have a single feature, such as a desert world or an ice planet. Just look at Earth… we have different climates based on different areas. Just winter alone is different here in Canada and in Northern Europe – and it’s non-existent in the equator zone.
A major example is the Lensman series by E.E. “Doc” Smith, and in film: the Star Wars saga.

E. E. "Doc" Smith

E. E. “Doc” Smith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Note that I’m not ragging on Star Wars. I’m a fan). Star Wars because there are so many worlds with life on them, and entire worlds just one climate.

Technically it isn’t entire worlds with a sole environment. A good writer could say that we just see part of a world, so the entire world isn’t just one environment type… but for the sake of this genre it’s considered to be.

Also, there are more intelligent versions of this genre. Lois McMaster-Bujold has her series of Vorkosigan novels set in a Space Opera universe, but she uses more science fiction ideas in it than others do.

Lois McMaster Bujold. Photo: David Dyer-Bennet...

Lois McMaster Bujold. Photo: David Dyer-Bennet 1996. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The main definition of space opera, according to its entry on Wikipedia, is that a space opera is like a ‘soap opera in space’. This is a bit simplistic, but they are often melodramatic stories involving ship combat, or romances and betrayals. We see them in standard SF, but far less melodramatic.
The Wikipedia article lists Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series as an example of Space Opera; I have trouble with that. First off, I’m a big Asimov fan. The Mule is an example of a large power escalation — cited as a characteristic of Space Opera — but Isaac didn’t write deep romance, and he was an actual scientist; his writing did have a more believable basis (I’m not saying that Psychohistory is real.
My 2nd NaNoWriMo novel (Into the Flock, a winner) was a Space Opera. I may try to redo it someday.

Cats and Writers

Today I’ll examine something less weighty; appropriate as it should not be a day for deep thoughts. It is Sunday, after all!

What I’d like to discuss is how many writers (including me) have cats.

My publishing imprint (Bosulliman Press) is based on a cat theme too. The origin of the name I’ll cover in my newsletter. I have a link to another Page on this Blog for me to manually add you to that list if you’re interested. Here ends my digression.

My cat (Garfield) is my third in 25 years. Author Rayne Hall wrote a series of books about writing using her black cat Salem as a spokesbeing; here’s a link (not an affiliate one). One of my friends — a very prolific author in her own right (blog here) has a cat named Ishmael. The number of authors with cats in their bios is beyond number.

So, why are cats and writers such a pairing?

Writing is a solitary endeavor; a writer is often alone for long stretches of time. A cat is only around when it wants attention, then stays away.

A cat purring, often on your lap, seems to calm a writer into more creative thought.

I’ll leave it to more scientific minds to answer this mystery!

Related articles

In Praise of Mark Twain

MTE5NDg0MDU1MTUzNTA5OTAzThis is later than I planned initially, so I’ll end up posting a few days in a row to compensate. I planned this post for Monday:

I’m a great admirer of Mark Twain (born Samuel Clemens. Biographies here and here). He was a prolific author, a witty humorist and a man of many great quotes. Here are some examples:

(from Brainyquote)

(from Goodreads)

 

Long Live the Legion!

This is not like my typical posts on this blog, but I wished to share my views anyway.

DC Comics have announced they will soon be cancelling the series due to poor sales. Paul Levitz – a writing legend on the series, and Keith Giffen – art legend on same – couldn’t save the title. Instead they killed many of the cast, and now the plug is being pulled.

5.22.10PaulLevitzByLuigiNovi4

5.22.10PaulLevitzByLuigiNovi4 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been a fan of the LSH for most of 33 years.

Julius Schwartz (the SF literary agent who carved himself another legendary career as a comicbook editor) helped to  pioneer this property, with Hugo-winning author Otto Binder, then joined by his brother Edgar as E and O (“Eando”) for awhile.

English: at in 2002. Français : au , en 2002.

English: at in 2002. Français : au , en 2002. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cracks began to show every time that the company rewrote the series in an attempt to remove Superman from the series. He was finally returned, but after 4 of these “retcon”s (retroactive continuity; essentially re-writing what we already know) the damage may have irrevocably been done – and having mediocre new stories didn’t help either.

The Legion hopefully will return someday. Meanwhile, the excellent past stories are collected in history volumes to read.

 

When People Write for Free, Who Pays?

Article on Gawker

I write articles  for the newsletter at work. I don’t get paid any extra for it,  You could say that I’m writing for free.

Is this bad? I don’t think so. This month I’ll be launching my first Kindle novels through Indiegogo (trust me, you’ll hear about it here among other sources), and I have a few other projects too… the newsletter for me is pure non-fiction though; I always benefit from further practice in that area. The more that I write, the better that I get in it, and the more confident I grow.

Those I’d see as reasons that while I don’t get cash for it it’s not really free. Plus for other magazines it will be for money.

Differing Views

Noisy class during first day of Creative Writi...

Noisy class during first day of Creative Writing Lab about “Writing and Silence” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ultimately not, but from different approaches:

Write On: Can We Teach Writing?

The Best Writing Advice You’ll Ever Get

I fall between those two camps. I took 2 classes in creative writing 28 years ago in CEGEP (junior college here in Quebec. Grades 12 and 13 in the rest of Canada). I learned the mechanics of writing there, but writing quality much later. I finished those classes frustrated in fact.

BIC (butt in chair) is I find the only true way to get better at the craft. In fact, it’s the methodology of NaNoWriMo. A philosophy that I should use more often…

Writing Curmudgeons Need Not Apply

Harry Harrison at Worldcon 2005 in Glasgow, Au...

Harry Harrison at Worldcon 2005 in Glasgow, August 2005. Picture taken by Szymon Sokół. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Robert Silverberg at Worldcon 2005 in Glasgow,...

Robert Silverberg at Worldcon 2005 in Glasgow, August 2005. Picture taken by Szymon Sokół. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I curate a Tumblr of  writing articles here. One piece that I’ve been hearing for days:

“…when a writer named Julian Tepper waited on Roth at a Manhattan deli, and, with pride and fear, gave him a copy of his first novel.

(Note, please: Tepper has published a novel with a legit publisher, and he is waiting tables in a deli. I believe that’s one point to Mr. Roth.)

As Tepper later wrote in the online Paris Review Daily, Roth congratulated him, thanked him for the book, and then offered this advice: “I would quit while you’re ahead. Really. It’s an awful field. Just torture. Awful. You write and you write, and you have to throw almost all of it away because it’s not any good. I would say just stop now. You don’t want to do this to yourself.” A few weeks later, Roth announced he would write no more.”

Now, maybe I’m young in the field, but if I ever become this cynical please put me out of my misery.

On closer thought, this isn’t an age thing. Robert Silverberg still writes (he’s in his 70s), the late Harry Harrison and Philip Jose Farmer were both in their 80s and still wrote; only declining health made them stop.

We all write because we enjoy it. It’s not mining coal or bungee jumping.

 

RPG Writing Links to Other Forms

In a recent Kickstarter project e-mail update a man named Stan! Brown was just announced as writing a sourcebook. His biography blurb states:

Stan! is the award-winning author of 2 novels, 15 short stories, more than 60 gaming products, and innumerable cartoons and comics.

This isn’t a surprise to me:

Mike Pondsmith: I first read his work on the Tunnels and Trolls RPG. He wrote short stories with his character Revenant, then longer, book-length tales. He also writes for games still.

Aaron Allston at the Deadbacks wrap party, Aus...

Aaron Allston at the Deadbacks wrap party, Austin, Texas, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Aaron Allston: He wrote – and still does – some of the most entertaining game adventures and sourcebooks. He began writing novels for the Top Secret / S.I. game, then a series of Doc Shae novels at Baen Books.

Baen Books

Baen Books (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

E. Gary Gygax: (RIP) The late creator of the hobby via Dungeons and Dragons , he also wrote novels for his Bionic Commando game, as well as a non-fiction guide on RPG Mastery. I own all of those books.

We don’t hop from RPGs to prose and back for money; neither work pays a lot (although novels do pay more). We write both because we love them, and because they use similar writing muscles.

Though I haven’t yet had published fiction (that will change in  2013), I’m also with my feet wet in both camps.