Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Free Content

Much (okay almost all) of my writing has been fodder for on-line zines and digital media. Hey--there's nothing wrong with those outlets. In fact it is downright democratic. The Internet has allowed so many universities and literary journals to save time, money and trees that I'm all for it. Also space--one no longer has to worry about how many words. Your piece can be as long or as short as you think it needs to be because no longer does a typesetter, art director, or layout person have to worry about "fitting" it in.

Also, readers of this blog know I've discussed here the tensions of writing or producing art, commercialism vs pure, untarnished--and unpaid--work. How do I resolve this?

Well, mostly I have no control over it. If I see an outlet or venue for a certain piece and know it is a good match for the audience, etc I'll send it in. Now the fact that Agni or Blackbird or Wag's Revue haven't accepted my work (YET!) means that I either need to target it better or write something they are looking for. The bigger publications (even on-line) pay something per word. Of course just getting the pub cred for any of those I've mentioned above would be fabulous all by itself. So, in other words, I'm submitting my work knowing I'll not get paid for it (or receive very little) because I really enjoy seeing my work "out there."

Maybe it's grandiose or a sense of the exhibitionist, but I like knowing I'm being read.

Lately, though, I've run into a few problems with free content. Editors--maybe for the reasons I've mentioned, because it's free--have begun to mess with the text, revising my work without talking to me. I've even had editors go ahead and put my stuff up on-line without alerting me. (I keep a submission grid and once a piece is taken, I withdraw it from consideration elsewhere. This is what a professional writer does.) So I've found myself surprised.

And unhappy.

Listen I know about revision, I've had editors write and ask for changes, but TO EDIT WITHOUT PERMISSION is not where it's at. It makes this writer of free content feel like a tool.

So this year, 2012, my motto is: I'm not writing for your publication, I'm writing for myself. Thus, every thing I send out will also go with some kind of caveat that any changes must first be submitted to me before publication. And visa versa, I'd like a chance to make any necessary changes to the text before it goes "live."

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