Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Market Value of My Art

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

The Inclusiveness -- or is it Self-disrespect? -- of Free Access

Earlier this week, I had the following exchange:

"What inhibits you from determining the market value of your art?"

"I’ve never really tried to sell it [just accepted the rate I was paid for four "Michigan Daily" articles; an "Inside Chicago" magazine freelance piece; and a review on an anthology of lesbian plays for the "Lambda Book Report"] and I don’t know what I ought to expect. Also, something in me feels that it’s great to serve people my thoughts for free – that all should have access."

When I told a musician friend about the exchange, he said, "Sure, I have some of my songs on Myspace, but I also have no trouble spending money on a CD, whether new or used, for music I like, and I appreciate people, spending money to buy my music, too."

I was reminded of a bit of a painful e-mail message I received a couple of Mays ago from an artist whose work I reviewed informally on my blog. He wrote to me in an annoyed tone: Why waste my time, blogging? With my talent, he wrote, why not write a real book? He meant to be complimentary and the question has haunted me.

Blogging feels like a miracle to me: a free forum, where I can reach anyone in the world who has computer access -- and even those without computer access can access my blog, if they can get to a public library; I recognize that that's not everyone, but it's potentially still a substantial number of humanity.

Writing a book and having a reputable publisher publish it feels like a miracle, too: a publisher that values my writing enough to want to sponsor my publication enables me likewise potentially to reach anyone with public library access.

What would the topic be? A graphic memoir? A book on how to be an inclusive leader? A guide to thinking creatively while swimming? All-time best songs for disco-rollerskating, including commentary? How to reconcile one's homosexuality with being Jewish? Helping leaders become better leaders through Web 2.0 tools? How to get through grad school after 40?....What could I write that no one else could, and that anyone would consider being book-worthy? Suggestions are welcome!


Dan said...

You could write fiction featuring characters who can really enunciate on thoughts inside that, for most of us, don't elevate out of inner levels of consciousness. That is the incredible strength of your blog. Your novels could center around family and love for family, another strength of your stories. Anne Tyler does both of these very well, but please don't make your characters as depressing as some of hers!

Sarah Siegel said...

Thanks for your ideas and kind feedback. Fiction seems like I'd be betraying my own honesty drive, but it's probably the only way to call what I write art...if I were to start calling it fiction.

I'll have to give that some more thought.