Fluff and Fold

 

A penny for your thoughts.

My Uncle Jerry used to say that when I was a child, usually accompanied by a pinch on the cheek. He was a character that I didn’t appreciate as much as I would now if he were still in my life.

Penny for your thoughts is an odd, older generation phrase, but I suppose it is pretty straight forward. Someone is offering a penny for you to share what’s on your mind.

I wonder if the first agent or publicist came up with this phrase.

There are two camps when it comes to compensation and the written word. Some believe that everything I type as a professional writer is “work product” and should be valued and treated as such. This side urges that sharing “work product” without compensation devalues the work as a whole.

In other words, if you want to read a blog post or a short story of mine, I will need to charge you. I should not share free chapters or anything that floats through my crazy mind without receiving a few pennies. Many writers are adamant that writing is serious business and to pay for it is to treat it as such.

The other camp, to which I belong, is a little more laid back. We have no problem putting certain things down and sharing them. Sometimes we charge, sometimes we don’t. There are no hard and fast rules. We believe that writing holds value whether a person pays for it or not.

In general, I would like to get away from the mindset that price determines worth.

If I pay $14.00 for NYT bestseller or $0.99 for a first-time author’s novel, that just means one writer has a better agent or contract. It may also mean she or he can afford better editors, or that the most expensive book arrives in a shinier cover.

There are a lot of nap-inducing explanations for the price of a novel, but none of them support that one story holds more value than the other. I have spent good money on garbage and been brought to tears by a mom-blogger up late with a cranky baby.

Creative value should have absolutely nothing to do with a penny or a dollar. Van Gogh, anyone?

Some words are my job. I shine them up and sell them behind a lovely cover. Others are ramblings late at night for anyone with an internet connection.

Both are my life’s work. Both are valuable, but only one pays my bills.

This idea that the only way for a writer to hold high esteem is to demand payment for every scrap or sentence is silly. Songwriters and singers perform all the time in coffee houses and bars for applause and tips.

Some writers share their soul for free. Others charge for every drop of blood. Most of us are somewhere in the middle, and that’s okay too. Writers placing rules and limitations on other writers defeats the whole purpose. Each garden is different.

My thoughts from the laundry room. Extra bed.

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