Monday, June 20, 2005

Writing advice...

Wannabee writers spend much too much time worrying about things they don't need to be worried about. I don't think I've ever attended a class - either traditional or online - where the conversation eventually hasn't turned to the business aspects of writing rather than the business of writing. People devoting inordinate amounts of time talking about protecting copyright, for instance, when the reality is that they're probably never going to produce anything worth protecting.

I once was annoyed by someone who went on for ages about his wonderful idea for a novel, but, since its plot was dependent on a a pop song, he hadn't started it because he didn't know whether he could get permission to use the song... and, if he did, how much it would cost.

"Why don't you start it, and if you think it's going to turn out well, contact the song's publisher?" I asked.

"But what if they say no, or it costs too much?" he answered. And by then I realized he just wanted to talk about the book, not actually write it.

Neil Gaiman has all sorts of useful stuff on his blog, including responses to questions from wannabees. Someone recently asked about song rights, and Gaiman explained about contacting the publisher and that most excerpts could be had for an average $150 price. But what I liked much better was his anecdote about trying to get permission to quote from "Under the Boardwalk":

On the other hand, the people who control the song "Under The Boardwalk" said this week that seven words would cost $800 and it wasn't negotiable, and I thought for a moment, and changed

"Under the boardwalk..." he sang. "We'll be making love."


He sang. In his song he told them all exactly what he planned to do under the boardwalk, and it mostly involved making love.

which I liked better, and didn't cost anything.
That's a real writer's response to the problem.

1 comment:

Ignatious said...

lol, fine points.

i've been guilty of said behavior. and also, writing classes have never taught me shit.

but i still have no clue what to do with writing.