Last night was spent working on the study of the tree again. I think I've worked out the solution to all the green on green - enough contrasts in light/dark, saturation, value... there are such nuances to deal with. I thought my hills were pretty much done, but now I realize that once I get the trees in there, there'll be some adjusting of surrounding colors to do and possibly some texturizing that I like from the study.
|Again, hard to get accurate color with a flash at night -|
I've got to try it with the flash off
I'm hoping to start work on it tonight while it's all fresh in the memory. However, I spent the day at the park with the kids (all day...without sunscreen), and now I'm really tired. There's something about spending time in the sun that just drains all energy from you. Hopefully, I'll get a second wind.
Question of the day (from the Story Charmer) is: what are your currencies, what do you value? I often think about what my own value is to my family. Once a person in this country retires from her day job, she begins to lose value like a new car driven off the lot. When I last worked a full-time job I made the most money I had ever made in my lifetime of work, and I began working at age 13. I worked full-time from age 17 on. When I returned to school at age 29 to go to university, I quizzed out of freshman year entirely, and worked 3-5 part-time jobs while going to school more than full-time so I could finish as quickly as possible and owe as little as possible.
All throughout my lifetime I gave presents, loans, supported as many people as I could, and managed to save money for retirement as well. I do not regret a single cent I ever gave or loaned or spent. The recession ate up more than I spent, and I regretted not having spent more so Bernie Madoff didn't get that little bit of my retirement savings. He wasn't who I loved.
So nowadays my currency, my personal value is no longer cash money. I give what I can of myself. And still sometimes, I feel a bit useless. I recognize how much perkier I am when someone asks for my help. Whether it is to show them how to sew on a button (my grandson), or to edit a script, sit with a dog, or work at one of my part-time jobs, I perk up more than when I'm working on my own writing projects. I enjoy helping others, and may find more value in being helpful than I do in my own creativity.
These are deep thoughts and not all that pleasant, to be honest. I find great conflict here. Isn't my writing as valuable as helping someone else? Do you suffer from this syndrome? Is it a syndrome? Is it even a problem?
I've inserted a watercolor done at my life drawing session last week. The pensive mood is nice, and it's time to start another novel, which will involve some casting about for concept and theme. My present evening reading is Cervantes’s “Don Quixote,” translated by Edith Grossman. I’ve read other, earlier translations, but this is both scholarly and a handsome edition, replete with footnotes about Cervantes’s story references, and the manuscript history. A jacket blurb by Lionel Trilling says, “It can be said that all prose fiction is a variation on the theme of “Don Quixote.” Perhaps. The theme of an addled but learned man coming centuries late to the call of knightly chivalry, and setting out in comical, makeshift knight’s regalia to seek adventure, has the ingredients of a comical farce, and yet, it never admits to anything like tongue-in-cheek comedy. We groan and shake our heads at Quixote’s foibles, even smile, ruefully, but the language, and often the wisdom sweep us along. Another jacket blurb by Milan Kundera says it well, “Don Quixote is practically unthinkable as a living being, and yet, in our memory, what character is more alive?” There are many story variations on this hero’s journey, or quest, from the crossing of the threshold from our world into the story world, the trials the hero must face along the journey, the winning (or losing) of some treasure, and the return—richer or poorer, in wealth or spirit. Perhaps none have, or will, make the journey quite like Don Quixote.
Kevin Kelly, who a couple of years ago wrote this provocative article on the future of books, is at it again, this time asking how it is possible to charge for something in a digital world where the cost of duplication and redistribution is almost exactly zero. While books are not the focus of his latest blog post, he could be talking about the publishing industry when he says 'Our wealth sits upon a very large device that copies promiscuously and constantly.'
The problem for content producers and owners, as he describes it, is that 'Once anything that can be copied [eg ebooks] is brought into contact with [the] internet,
it will be copied, and those copies never leave. Even a dog knows you
can't erase something once it's flowed on the internet.' For book publishers, struggling with
issues of ebook pricing, or looking askance at the record business where copy protection is on the way out and the price of recorded music slides inexorably towards free, working out how to create value and encourage people to pay for digital products is becoming an important issue.
But happily Kelly has a possible balm;
'When copies are free, you need to sell things which cannot be copied.'
He suggests 8 'values', including authority, personalization and immediacy which increase value for the user and potentially could encourage payment for a something which might otherwise have a tangible value close to zero. I'm not going to copy his entire article here (though I could simply reproduce a digital copy at no cost to myself at all) - but I do suggest checking it out, it is a most worthwhile read. Perhaps most usefully (and something that really should be obvious) is his suggestion that business models are considered from the point of view not of the content creator, owner or distributor, but from the users perspective; What, he asks, can encourage us to pay for something we can get for free?
Meanwhile, the O'Reilly publishing conference is today starting in New York. At last years' conference Chris Anderson scandalized attending publishers when he said that he was trying to get his new book, Free, priced as close to, er, free, as possible since for him books were an advertisement for his speaking and consultancy business. As every single publisher said, 'that's great for him, but what about us?'. Kevin Kelly, thankfully, provides ample food for thought.
Jeremy Ettinghausen, Digital Publisher
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How much do you think a good story is worth? I don't mean a book necessarily since books can be collectible and that's not what I am getting at here, but how much do you think a novel length story is worth?
When deciding this you might compare the value of the read vs. other entertainments such as the cost of a movie rental? The price of a video game? The cost of a newspaper or magazine? The drop in fee for a local gym or that knitting class at the community center? For me the value varies wildly depending on how much I enjoy (or expect to enjoy) the book.
With that in mind I have been thinking about the current "race to the bottom" debate in e-publishing that has been raging on the blogosphere. For those of you who are unaware it essentially boils down (in an inelegant way) to publishers claiming that self published authors are going to ruin publishing by offering eBooks at rock bottom prices; while the self-published authors are claiming that large publishing houses are bloated profiteers.
From the publishers side: two years ago I posted a rough breakdown of what the costs of printing a book might be for a traditional publisher. Based on these figures you get closer to understanding the $9.99 price point that publishers seem to be trying to stick with for an ebook. Shave a little here and there and then knock off the additional costs associated with a physical book and you are close to that figure. Everyone takes a bit of a hit in total values but I can see where they are coming from.
On the other hand it's now very common to see self published ebooks for sale for as little as $0.99-$2.99. You may also see these self published authors explaining that they are in fact making money at this price. So why do the publishers need to charge more?
Now that authors can self publish without having to front the serious amounts of cash to physically print their books they are less likely to need a publisher to bankroll the project. Couple this with the fact that an author can now act as or hire a publicist and designer on a piece meal basis to cover most of the basic marketing needed for a book launch and you can see why some mid and backlist authors choose to self publish.
I am making the suggestion that now a publishers greatest value is not to the average author but to the reader. Publishers do help separate the wheat from the chaff. By helping readers find quality writers they can save them from that feeling of wanting those last few hours back.
I am willing to pay a bit more to know that the novel I am about to read is at least going to be well written and hopefully interesting but exactly how much more I am willing to pay for that is what publishers need to figure out. I kind of wish I could tell them.