I’ve gone through the proof for my first book, the final cover has been decided and paid for (although the final print cover is waiting on the final formatting). I’m going to publish it within this month. I should be worrying about how it’ll be received.
I’m not. I’m too distracted by other things.
Ars Gratia Artis. L’art Pour L’art.
I’ve always preferred art for the sake of art, although I have always understood that for some artists art is for the sake of social change – warnings, improvements, commentary, etc. Nevertheless, when something in the world sufficiently bothers me I think about writing something to try to stop things from getting worse. The political situation on the other side of the world, in another country to which mine in no way belongs, in another hemisphere, upsets me. I want to write to warn those who do not see danger coming that actually the time to act was months ago, when they merrily sped through the DANGER END OF ROAD signs, but that they might stop complete disaster if they hit the breaks before they reach the actual edge of the cliff …instead of in a few years when they’ve plunged over and into the abyss while wailing that no one warned them this could happen. I want to warn them, even though they have not listened to any previous warnings, if for no other reason that then I can wash my hands of it and say that I tried. It’s not my country, though, so it is not my moral obligation to fix the mess they made.
Thinking about it makes me sick. It gives me nightmares. It brings my mind constantly back to the book in my house which lists all those from a single city, including a whole branch of my ancestors’ family, who did not come back from the camps alive. It reminds me that political prisoners and those who spoke out were the first to be dragged away, and that the world’s main resources for social networking and self-publishing are all trapped in the Silicon Valley – so how long before someone who writes something warning of the dangers gets a target painted on their back?
I have health issues, anxiety mostly. Thinking about politics makes it worse. It keeps me from sleeping and it distracts me from what I want to write about. Do I have a moral obligation to write about it – at the cost of my own health, in a best-case scenario? I don’t think so. I am not the only person in the world who can stand up and do something, and it is not my country. I am not obliged to bail them out at the cost of my own health. Could I write a terrifying tale warning them of things to come if they don’t stop hiding their heads in the sand? Certainly. Would they heed the warning? No. They haven’t heeded anyone else’s so far, so why would a quiet voice from the other side of the world change anything?
The part of me that gets angry – the sense of justice, I suppose – wants to fight, both the political problems and the copyright issues that come from fanfiction (trying to get it justified as “Transformative” so you don’t have to ask permission to write it is basically trying to ignore the author’s right to be recognised as the author, which means recognising their right to control their work).
The part of me that is my pitiful sense of self-preservation argues that I am literally (and I do mean that in the correct sense of the word) making myself ill from anger and I cannot actually change anything anyway, no matter how hard I try. If there comes a day when the fight is something directly related to you, it argues, then fight. For now concentrate on your health and on becoming a successful writer. If nothing else, one day if you have to drag them to court to keep control of your copyrighted material (which isn’t even written and published yet), you can slap the damn transformative works organisation people with the bill for all the anti-anxiety meds you had to take to be able to write while worrying about them possibly succeeding in their hopes of using ‘transformative’ to take control of copyright away from writers (it doesn’t matter if they’re not officially doing that, making fanfiction transformative as a loophole will have the same effect down the line – too many fans on their archive already don’t understand why they shouldn’t make money off copyrighted material and some even link their funding accounts to their fanfiction profiles). “No negative effects on the copyright holder’s ability to make art and money” my arse.
The part of me that is disgusted with humanity in general looks at all the warnings in politics and the arrogance of fan writers who want to make it impossible for artists to say “Don’t make adaptations of my work without my permission” and it says “Just let them get themselves killed. They had warnings. They ignored them. It’s on them now.
The part of me which grieves for humanity and the suffering current events are causing is making it impossible to write for my next project or research for the one after that. I can’t concentrate to write.
The part of me that’s currently keeping me from complete insomnia and regular panic attacks has been hiding out in Glen Cook’s books. That’s also slowing down my writing, but unlike AO3 and politics, it isn’t making me cry and forcing me to take valerian and other such things so that my chest muscles will unclench and I can breathe. I need to get more Garrett, P.I. and Black Company books, The Tower of Fear just isn’t impressing me. It’s nice to see non-Medieval-European fantasy for a change, though, I’d started to think fantasy in non-western settings was a myth.