Sunday, January 27, 2013

On art and money

Today I’m only going to ask questions.  Does it make sense to struggle to make your art a business?  What happens when you have to find a way to make a profit?  Do you fall less in-love with your art?  Or do you have to look at it more closely, understand what it’s saying, what it’s doing, how much power it has to grab someone’s attention and emotions?  Do you need to ask what it’s worth?  Not only financially, but emotionally, and in effort—yours to create it, and someone’s time to experience it?  Is an element of art the process of thinking ahead to sell it? 
     Obviously there are degrees to this question, and “art” can be interpreted in many ways.  Some may argue that commercial art is not “their” kind of art.  But I've met a few authors who produce what I might term commercial art, and they believe themselves artists, as much as I believe that about myself.  They talk about character.  They talk about place.  They talk about their writing.  They talk about their love of the process (along with their despair about the difficulties).  Who am I to draw a line?  I either appreciate their end result, or not.  Or waver, seeing it’s power and its flaws.  The same can be said of any novel I might read.  Any painting I might look at. 
     Artists need to support themselves.  But how does that change us, and change what we create?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Starting your own writers group

For anyone who might be interested, I’m giving a talk at the Beachwood Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library this next Saturday—January 26th, at 2:00 PM.  I’ll be doing the same thing at the Fairview Branch on Thursday, January 31, at 7:00 PM.  They’d love for you to register, but you could just show up, too.  Here’s the description, and the link.

How to Start a Writing Group
Branch: Beachwood - Meeting room
Type of Event: Classes
Date: Saturday, January 26, 2013 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
And keep it going smoothly!  Sarah Willis, founder of The East Side Writers -- in existence for 22 years -- will share her advice on starting and running a successful writing workshop.  You will learn how to bring together peers to discuss and improve your fiction, nonfiction, poetry or memoirs. We will cover how to critique helpfully, listen to feedback, and use suggestions, along with the nitty-gritty of how to find your peers, and when and where to meet.  This class will be helpful even if you are already in a writers' group.
Instructor Sarah Willis has published four novels.  Her first, Some Things That Stay, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, won a Cleveland Arts Prize in Literature in 2000, and was made into a movie in 2004.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Questions about rights

I’m full of questions these days.  So here’s one.  I love the photos on Beautiful Planet Earth, and Beautiful Amazing Earth.  Who wouldn’t?  Forests fringed with frost, forests spongy with dark green moss, mountains, lions, Monarch butterflies.  I can gaze at them for hours, share them with my Facebook Friends, but I’m beginning to believe that some of the photos were not taken by the person whose name is posted in the top right corner.  I look up those names, but am lead to Facebook profiles that don’t mention anything about being photographers.  One guy has hundreds of photos, all over the map in style and type and places of the pictures he posts.  I messaged him, but my message got bounced. 
              I want to share the lion’s face, because it entices me, but I want to credit the photographer.  What’s happened to taking (and giving) credit?  Is everything on the web for grabs?  Can someone use a photo of me, or of my farmhouse, just because I’ve shared it online? 
              Some photos have a connection to a webpage, that you can like, and follow, and that seems the decent thing to do for a photo I want to look at for more than a moment, a photo I want to come back to, to save.  But what about the rest?
              So, here’s the simple part of the question: Do you think twice before sharing a photo online, be it your own picture, or one from someplace like Beautiful Planet Earth?  How do we applaud the artist?  Is sharing enough?

The name attached to this image is Mart In.