I'm going to talk about life for a few paragraphs. I recently ran into a guy who asked me to check out a website. No problem, happy to do it. Some people put out very creative content and I appreciate the hard work that goes into it. This guy is a writer, or at least trying to become a writer. He's just out of college, a very prestigious university, and trying to make his mark on the world. I'm eager to see what he thinks, check out his new world view, maybe learn something. He's persistent. I like that too. A few flicks of the keys and I'm checking out his site. It's like a kickstarter page, patron, and he's looking for sponsors, patrons, to support his writing.
I think, okay, interesting, whatcha got? I check out his chapters, he has four. It's a book he's working on and putting out for free. It's a good start on a first draft, probably much better than what I put out for a first draft. My editor might think it's better than what I turn in for a final. He asks me if I'd support his writing. I had to think about it and weigh some pros and cons. I don't mind throwing a few buck to new writers to buy their book. It's a finished product. It'll either be good, or otherwise, but as a consumer and having paid for a product, I don't mind providing an honest opinion about it, but I never try to be mean if I don't like something I'm critical, but never hurtful. What's he's asking me to do is to be critical of his work and pay him for it. On one hand, I admire the man's entrepreneurial spirit on the other hand I don't know if he's earned a paycheck. This is different than creating something on a commission, or an artist earning patrons because they love the artist's work, or putting in the time and a someone buying your work.
As a writer, it took me a long time to write my book and there was a lot of pain involved in it's creation. I threw it out in the world in hope that others would like it too. Some do, most have never heard of it. It's okay, it takes time. I never expected to light the world on fire and being a book with superheroes the time to strike should have been when I finished it in 2008 and not in the saturated market of 2014. It took me a long time to find the right guy that not only helped bring it out in the world, but took the time to bring me along with it.
What does these things have to do with life? It's about the changing of the guard and differences in generations. Baby Boomers are retiring and Gen X is coming into power. I'm firmly a Gen X. I was born in 1969. I remember the world before the internet, the birth of which is probably the most significant human event after the first moon landing. It's arguable. The moon landing was a pinnacle of human achievement, but the internet actually changed the world. One year I was typing out papers on a typewriter, (which a device like computer, but no browser history, or spell checker) then one day I'm typing away on a Commodore 64 with a 300 baud modem and leaving messages on BBSs in 1987. I took a technical hiatus and reentered the electronic space in 1995, when I bought an HP and hooked up for the very first time to the world wide web on AOL so I could play Ultima online. My shiny new computer had half a gig on a hard drive that, at the time, I had no hope of filling to capacity. While I had experience with a Tandy, an IBM 386, an Apple 2E and beloved C64, The world became a different place when I had e-mail and myspace and that gave way to Facebook, Google, Twitter, Wikipedia and vast amounts knowledge that with a few clicks eventually leads you to youtube and watching episodes of Jem and the Holograms. While I've grown with the technology and in fact have a job that actually builds the internet, I'll always be the guy who came from an analog world and is trying to keep up in the digital space.
Which brings me back to my friend, his world is different than mine. He never knew a time before the internet. He's as comfortable with technology as I am with manual transmission. He has a lot figured out, at least enough to demand $1-$250/month to support him. Did it work? He has supporters. He has support for work that shows promise, but lacks experience. He has interesting ideas, but they're not fully realized. This is layman's opinion, of course as I'm not an editor, barely a writer, but I can say I'm a very good reader.
Now it comes back to my decision. Do I support him? Or do I leave him to fend for himself? Do I feed the entitlement and instant gratification? Or support a clever mind? Should I deny him the oprospect to have his C64 and teach him it's okay to be mediocre. What was the answer?
I told him I'd be happy to buy his book after he publishes it. The reward is the journey, not the destination. Why cheat yourself of an opportunity? And that is my justification for being cheap. That's life.
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