The Fight for Digital Publishing Rights

Despite the disparaging of e-books as cold, hard, unfriendly sources of reading, traditional publishers apparently think there’s money to be made through publishing in “electronic book publishing formats.”  The authors may be long-dead, but their publishers are in a tussle with their estates over who owns whose rights.  In the case of William Styron’s books, Random House expects to “continue to publish the Styron books we own in all formats, including e-books.”  (Click here for the full story.)  Hmmm … the Styron books they own?  OK, I understand that traditional publishers invest capital and even some sweat equity in an author’s work, but just who wrote Styron’s books?  Could they maybe express it differently … say, they expect to publish to the books that they bought rights to?  I know I probably sound like I’m splitting hairs, but wouldn’t any author wince to hear a publisher say that he “owns” the author’s books?

When Not Writing is Writing …

In a recent post, Fiona Robyn mused, “Most of the time being a writer is about looking out at the frosted grass, and sipping earl grey, and not writing.”  Sometimes I think I do my best writing when I’m knitting or crocheting or sewing, when my hands are occupied with something other than typing.  Even playing mindless computer games sometimes brings forth the crucial bit of action to move my story or novel forward (if I can ever pull myself away from the mindless computer game).  I grew up with the notion that a “true” writer is constantly writing, at least scribbling in a notebook at every free moment.  A “true” writer cannot do anything but write, write, write.

I wonder.  Part of what drives me to write is the joy of creation, much the same joy that I feel when I knit, crochet, sew (but not when I play mindless computer games).  Writing is like piecing together a quilt, or watching a deceptively simple looking pattern unfold from an eye-crossing knitting schematic.  Unfortunately, I cannot wear my writing (except on my sleeve) like I can wear the scarves, shawls, sweaters I create.  I can’t even use my writing to cover my bed like I would a quilt (well, technically I could, but it wouldn’t be as warm and cozy).  If I were a full-time writer, or even a full-time knitter, crocheter, sewer, this would not be too much of a problem.  But I am a writer with a day job, something that has nothing to do with writing novels or stories, or knitting up scarves and shawls, or piecing quilts.  Time is finite and I want to do it all — the whole creative process that, for me, starts with the hands (knitting, crocheting, sewing, typing, hand writing) and continues through the mind.  However and whenever the words make it to the page, I am a writer.  It’s not the frequency of my writing.  It’s just the fact that I do write.

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