Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Don't be a Pirate's Wench

Back when you could tell who the real pirates were by their uniforms

I went to Target the other day to buy some new balls for my dogs. As I walked out of the store, a thought occurred to me. I’d just paid five bucks for two small pieces of round rubber that my dogs would more than likely kill by the end of the week. Granted, they did have smiley faces on them, and they were “high bounce” ones, which they love, but still.

That same five dollars could have bought me lunch at one of the many fast-food places in the shopping centre.

It could have bought me two chocolates from the charity box at work, with the added bonus of going to a good cause.

That lazy five bucks could also have bought me five books for my kindle, with a couple of cents change.

Why am I telling you this? Because everything has a value, and value is in the eye of the buyer.

When I want to buy something, I research it. I price-check and compare. If I don’t think it’s worth whatever the asking price is, I don’t buy it. Simple as that really.

Why is digital content any different?

It seems no matter who you talk to, they’ve either downloaded content illegally, or know someone who has. Most times, they often don’t see what the problem is. They might feel a bit “naughty” about it, but that’s it.

Arguments range from “the musicians are rich enough as it is, they’re not missing any money”, to “I wouldn’t have bought it anyway”. Or “I’ve discovered lots of bands/authors by downloading pirated versions of their work, and downloaded the rest of their stuff legally.”

These are excuses. They’re borne from having very little or no connection with the people they hurt. Let’s forget about mega-famous artists like Pink, or Madonna, or Bon Jovi. Let’s also forget about big-name authors like Stephen King, Stephanie Myer and JK Rowling. And let’s forget about Hollywood, Brad Pitt and Steven Spielberg.

Let’s forget about all those famous names for a moment, and think about people like me. Writers whose sole ambition is to publish books for people to read and enjoy. Writers, artists and musicians who work hard for years, even decades, to make enough money to quit their day jobs and work on their passions full-time.

(FYI - only a very minute percentage get to do that)
How would they ever be able to contemplate that if people like you don’t see enough value in their hard work to pay 99c for an e-book, $1.69 for a song, or $10 for a movie?

Look, I buy books from the bargain table all the time. I’ve also downloaded a number of free books on the kindle from authors I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. I get the “value to entertainment ratio”, because on top of being a writer, I’m also a consumer.

The thing is, when you download a pirated version, you take the power away from the creator of that music, book or movie to offer it for free in the first place. It’s rare these days for those of us starting out to not offer something for free. It’s a great marketing ploy. But it’s within our own control to do it.

It’s also well within our rights as artists to expect something in return for our efforts.

You know me. You know what this writing gig means to me. You know how hard I work to make this my full time career. Would you have me working for nothing? Would you have me effectively waste all those years, slogging away at a keyboard, trying to learn my craft in order to produce something I think someone might want to read and enjoy?

Do you value me, and my work, so little that you would choose pirated over paying me a small amount of money in appreciation for my efforts at entertaining you?

All those big names I mentioned earlier? They all started in complete obscurity, working hard until they got that one role, produced that one song, or wrote that one book, that broke them away from the millions of others they were competing against. The money, fame and accolades are fair pay for all their struggles to get to where they are.

There’s no such thing as an over night sensation, but it’s what most of us are working our arses off to achieve.

And those little yellow bouncy balls? They’re still going strong - for now - and they’re giving me, and my dogs, a lot more value than a cheeseburger or a couple of chocolates would have.

Photo by ~Sincere Stock~

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Sunday Sesh #26 - Blue Sky Pilsner

And so we come to the very final Sunday Sesh for this summer, brought to you by Blue Sky Pilsner. This is the same little brewery in Cairns that produces of one of my new favourites from this summer, FNQ lager.

Blue Sky Pilsner
This is a Czec-style pilsner, so it's a clear, pale-yellow beer with lots of carbonation. It smells sweet and florally out of the bottle, and pours well, with a small head that sticks around as you drink it.

This one's a bit spicy, and leaves your tongue feeling tingly. It's refreshing and very easy to drink. The sweetness in it reminds me of drinking shandies when I was younger, but it's got a bit of a bite that leaves you feeling the bitterness in the bottom of your throat.

This is on the heavy end of mid-strength brews, and would make a great session beer. Great to share with mates over a BBQ.

Another success from the north of sunny Queensland. Dare I say it - I think we do make some of the best brews Down Under up here.

So what's next for the blog if this is the last Sunday Sesh? Firstly, I'll be getting my head stuck back into some writing, which I've been neglecting over the last few weeks.

I intend on starting the Sunday Sesh's back up again with the onset of summer next year, which means 13 Sesh's instead of the 26 like this year. Summer got the hint this year and gave me some fantastically hot, steamy and sunny days, so I think I can forgo drinking through spring this time around.

In the mean time though, I'll be charting more of my writing journey on here, and occasionally throwing in some posts on things that amuse me, just for fun.

The posting schedule is going out the window for the time being, so I'll really be posting when I have something to say. I'm hoping that will turn out to be at least once a month, but since I can talk under water with a gag on, it's probably going to be more often. We'll just have to wait and see.

So that's it from me for the Sunday Sesh's. I hope you've enjoyed the beer reviews as much as I have. It's a little disappointing to be getting rid of my best reason to drink beer, but I don't think Wifey will be complaining.

As always though, I'm always on the lookout for good brews, so if you have any suggestions for something to add to my list for next summer's reviews, let me know.


Friday, 2 March 2012

Tricking the Muse

Up until recently, I've really been struggling with my writing. I've been concentrating on my "Self-Publish or Die" five-year writing plan and the business side of things, and haven't been working too hard on the actual writing side. Which is stupid really, since I can't publish if I don't write.

My brain has been ticking over with plot-based thoughts, doing random character surveys, and working on settings - all in my subconscious mind, yes, and it is technically working. I’m just struggling getting words on the page.

Anyway, I hit upon a way to take the plot forward on one of my WIPs the other day, and I now have a clean, stream-lined plot-plan that I am taking no notice of whatsoever. Hey, it's there so at least I can't get too far off track.

Part of my problem has been prioritising other things over my writing. One of the first lines in my new "Self-publish or Die" writing plan is "My writing time takes precedence, unless someone in my immediate family is dead or dying. And even then, the funeral will be at my convenience". I haven't really written that last line down, but you get the point.

After wrestling with my Muse and my schedule for the better part of a month, I finally sat myself down and just made myself write. Which was the most painful thing I have ever done. I've broken bones and dislocated joints and even they weren't as painful. But I did it. I managed to squeeze out 200 words on last year's Nano novel in just under 3 hours. Just for something to do.

And while I was forcing my fingers to type out those 200 words, a funny thing happened. My Muse thought it would be amusing to sabotage my forced creativity - by thinking about the WIP I actually wanted to work on.

I continued on with my fingers’ forced march across the keyboard, all the while not acknowledging that I could hear my Muse snickering in the background. Oh she thought she was funny, trying to distract me, but I forged on, determined not to let her get the better of me.

Until she gave me something I couldn't ignore. She gave me the answer to a plot hole the size of China - for the WIP I wanted to work on. My fingers stopped typing and my Muse cackled with laughter. She laughed so hard until I smiled and said "Thanks. I've been wondering where you've been hiding."

I opened a shiny new word document and re-wrote an entire chapter from off the top of my head, slipping in the subtle changes my Muse was pestering me with earlier. I wrote an entirely new beginning for that WIP, in the tone I had been desperately trying to portray, and I even wrote a whole new chapter that took the plot in a completely different, yet exciting, direction I never dreamed it could go.

Moral of the story - my Muse is a trickster, and if I ignore her, she does wonderful things without even trying.

What about you? How do you trick your muse?