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bear by san

March 2017



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criminal minds diana reid crazy

even the very longest love don't last very long

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Today's teacup: violets
Today's tea: Today is a day requiring both blackcurrant tea and salabat, which I made with jasmine green tea. (See below.)

Temperature this morning: 28 degrees

I'm finding myself a little crabby with the NPR story this morning on Louisa May Alcott, which seems a little disingenuous to me in that there's a deal of censure being attached to Alcott's working toward making a living.

Artists, of course, are expected to spend tewnty years learning a craft and art that they will then do just for the love of it. The fact is, yes, most of us will do it just for the love of it.

But we also need to eat.

Alcott grew up in grinding poverty with a fabulously popular but indigent father. The fact that she was concerned with securing a good encome in her adulthood does not make her less of an artist; it makes her an artist like any other.

 20090406 00320090406 001 High-mindedness and a desire for financial stability are not mutually exclusive, you know.

Alcott supported her family and herself with her work. She was an independent woman in an era when that was not common or encouraged. I am not, personally, a big fan of her work (though the ivy story in A Garland for Girls stays with me to this day), but I am a fan of her life.

And I'm pretty sure that the author of Little Women and Hospital Sketches could manage to be both an artist and mercenary at the same time.

Of course, I am a commercial artist myself. If nobody wants to read my books, I don't eat. Fortunately, I do consider accessibility an artistic value (one that I am not particularly good at, but it's nice to have goals) and I don't consider it a value that necessarily lies in opposition to depth of meanng or nuance or ambiguity. The hard trick, of course, is balancing it all. Layers; this is what layers are for.

leahbobet has been talking a bunch about Dashiell Hammett lately; I also offer Dennis Lehane as an example. (Mystery has figured out how to do this well; I imagine SFF can pull it off too.)

Both of them, I am pretty sure, earn(ed) a living.

Today I must work on The Secret Project With kylecassidy (also featureing trillian_stars) and The White City. I think part of the problem I am having with The White City is that it is at its heart a very bleak little book, and it ends with a noble sacrifice and a cold wind blowing--and I am a little scared of writing that, because it's so sad. Also, there's the simple logistics of Our Heroes solving the mystery. Which is apparently trickier than it might seem.


Well, blogging doesn't get the writing done. Off we go, avoidant-lass


I am reminded of the continual praise of Socrates for teaching his students for free, while the Sophists were and are execrated for charging their students a fee. The people doing the praising and execrating, meanwhile, are getting paid for teaching their students. Cognitive dissonance, anyone?
Paid, health insurance, often the benefits of tenure and association with a university...

The rest of us can live on dew and moonshine. It's good for us.
The wonderful "modern" conception of "pure" art, yes.

I wonder how much the future of science fiction I like is going to depend on the fact that people will do it anyway? Stuff like Vinge still sells pretty well, when he gets something written, though.
You should post that bit to NPR, it's well done, and maybe they will read it on the air. I think it is important to point out that artists do need to eat.
I get so damn pissy when people imply that artists shouldn't want to get paid for their work, they should only do it for the frikken' *lurve*.

Bite me, fanboys/girls. I have children to feed and rent to pay. What the hell is wrong with wanting to make art that makes money?



By the way, I find your work beautifully accessible and I am sitting here saving my pennies so I can buy Chill and on tenterhooks for Grail, because I devoured Dust. DEVOURED.

You just keep doing what you are doing. :)
Thank you.

re: commercial artist

Just as a data point, I note that out of all the money I spent on written fiction this year, about 1/3 has been on Shadow Unit. While this is a comment on how much I'm enjoying Shadow Unit, what I'm pointing to is the medium.

Nowadays, if I buy a book, it's because I want to hold a book in my hand. It will be hardback and it will be something that I've either read and loved and know I will read again, or one which I'm willing to take a risk that it will be something that I'll love and want to read again, or it will be from an author that I feel I have the type of connection that I want to give them my patronage.

And, as far as reading for pleasure goes, I spend about 75% of my reading time (maybe 2-3 hours a day) reading online journals, blogs, articles, and fanfic.
Jo March is a Mary Sue, except not really because Alcott was a really good writer.

I wish I could do more to support the modern starving artist than buy hardcovers and fangirl people on the Internet.

(also? don't most of your books end with noble sacrifices and cold winds?)

I think most of them end on an up note, actually. *g* This one, not so much.

But it is set in Moscow, so that's sort of appropriate.

Actually, the point of the PBS biography is that this image of Jo March as a Mary Sue is, well, largely nonsense.
I really don't understand why art that is accessible should be considered selling out or some such. I do understand the difference between a Renoir and the "starving artist art sold on a corner". Renoir was a master and the others may or may not be but nowadays I am not convinced that art critics and market can tell the difference. If an artist is doing what they love and doing it so enough others like it so they can make a decent living, isn't that all to the good? Certainly artists who can support themselves with their craft are more likely to be able to feed my addiction to books:)
My opinion is that the inaccessible nature of art makes it seem more "artistic" in a certain simple view of art.

After all, if anyone can tell it's art, then how will people turn their noses up at those that "don't get it"?
Sadly, to some, merely getting a day job is proof you are a sell out. Although btw going without heat in winter is really not conducive to the making of art.
I actually wrote my master's thesis, in part, on this exact aspect of Alcott's work.

Women writers in 19th-century America were more prolific and made more money than their male counterparts. Yet history has forgotten them — mostly, Alcott being an exception — because they wrote for money. Even Alcott published her most mercenary works under a pseudonym.

But what history really overlooks is that all these stories written by forgotten women got at a kernel of truth — that women have minds and intelligence and opinions, an idea that, if you look at much of the literature and contemporary history (written by men), seems quite foreign to the minds of the day. Women's work, even the mercenary stuff, reflected the life of women. And isn't that what art is? A reflection of life, a kernel of truth?
Ah, the old "art must be PUUUURE" argument. What bullshit. What's even worse is when the *same* people respond to a work of art with "but I don't UNDERSTAAAAND it". There's nothing inherent to commercial art that makes it "bad" art, and fie on anyone who says otherwise. (So many of the greats were commercial -- Cervantes? Commercial. Shakespeare? Commercial. Dickens? Commercial.)

I'm glad to have studied with a literature program that agrees with me and runs classes on theater, film, television, interactive fiction, video games, comics, etc. and so on in addition to the usual Shakespeare and Joyce. Much more interesting to consider art in its totality rather than blocking off one section and decreeing it "pure".
I don't think Concord was that cheap a place to live in Alcott's time; Ghu knows it's even less of an affordable place to live today. Yes, Thoreau pulled it off for a while, but IIRC he was sponging off a friend while at Walden. I, for one, don't see any shame in being both financially and artistically successful. My guess is that those who do consider it inherently shameful are neither financially nor artistically successful, and are jealous as hell thereby.

On a completely separate thought: Sekrit Project? Ooooh ...
I don't buy many books. I am poor, which is only a partial excuse, but I am also pragmatic ... I am a fast reader, especially at the level of complexity that most popular fiction is written, so the usual novel is about 3 hours worth of stimulation for me. Which, looking at a cost-to-benefit ratio, is still better than a movie. But I don't go to movies much, either. Mostly I support my local library, and buy books very occasionally. Usually only reference books or childhood favorites (because those have sentimental re-read value, and because I like to infect those younger than myself with the reading bug, if I can possibly manage it).

Anyway. I do buy your books, Bear. I buy them when I can because I want you to keep doing what you're doing. I don't understand in the least those who criticize artists for seeking compensation for their work. What I do understand is that the best way to encourage anyone to do anything is to pay them for it. I just wish I were in a position to do so more regularly.
Well, thank you.

And I use libraries and used book stores too. *g* No blame.
I think Alcott herself provided a pretty good re buttal to NPR, in Work (which I should really reread).