Daily Archives: January 29, 2011

Post-A-Day2011 – Exposing myself

Reading other bloggers is inspiring. Today I visited Practically Twisted and discovered once more how many other artists and writers deal with being asked to work for free. No more giving it ALL away so often. I remember this line from “The Color Purple”. “Stop givin’ away all your shit!” Maybe I am becoming more forceful. Seeing purple? (It is after all a healing color…LOL!)
Harlan Ellison says it all very clearly, in words I have spoken. He says it clearly and forcefully!
Hearing the words “but it will be good exposure for you” one too many times prompted me to say quite clearly, “If I simply wanted more exposure, I could take off my clothes and run down Main Street. You know people can die from exposure!” I try to keep a sense of humor about it all – to a point.
A few years ago, I, too had a very brief career as a professional photo journalist.
After the publication of my poem (yesterday’s post) I was asked if I would be willing to write some short farmy feature articles for a newspaper. Yup.
After the first article was published I was paid – $40.00. It was short, so okay, I had agreed ahead of time to that. They liked my work and ideas so much they asked for more. I agreed to produce more. They loved them. They were popular… their readers responded positively. The last article I wrote for them was about an outdoor adventure with a local organization. I wanted to go on it anyway, so I did. After three days on the road (2 in the rain), interviewing people, documenting their adventure in words and images and joining in, I then wrote the story, which took three days of writing, selecting and editing photos and soggy notes.
When it was published, a full page plus, a lot of people called with positive feedback. The pay? Still $40.00. At that rate I figured it out – 3 days of expenses for travel, camera equipment, roughly 40 hours of writing and editing… what’s wrong with this picture? Less than 50 cents an hour, I quit. I made more baby-sitting as a teenager with few bills to pay!
$40.00 per article. That was their policy. Didn’t matter how many photos, how many words. $40.00. The saving grace in this story, I did sell a few photos to some of the adventurers from that last article, and will probably sell more. After I quit writing features for the paper, the editor offered to hire me – full time. A nice man, an excellent writer, who became a friend. The pay was modest. That was an issue and the bigger issue came when I asked what I would be expected to write about. The answer? Murder, accidents, court cases. “No thanks, ” I answered. “I intend to write about the positive things in the community. I believe that when we focus on the negative, for shock value or whatever, it encourages more. I want to encourage families to do things together, for people to appreciate this countryside and see the opportunities around us. Thanks, and no thanks.” He understood and I appreciate that. He said he envied me for not selling out.
As an editor he gave me support, encouragement and words I will never forget. “Everybody has a story. All you have to do is ask the question and listen.” Thanks, Tom, that was worth the $40.00.

Yesterday, I wrote “Why do we write? To remember, to capture a moment, a feeling, a smell of something or someone we love and then… to share it.” I also write and make art to be paid. Compliments and admiration are encouraging and do not pay the bills.

Yep. (and a note to my friends… don’t worry, yes, you will still receive gifts!)
May your day be filled with everything you deserve – we all deserve the best. Follow your bliss and be sure you keep your clothes on… most of the time anyway. 🙂

Namaste~Star Bear

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Post-A-Day2011 – Why do we write?

To remember, to capture a moment, a feeling, a smell of something or someone we love and then… to share it.

The first poem I had published this century was written in this loft where our hay was stored. The barn was built in the 1880's and was filled with history and character. I think it was contagious!

Winter Endured by Summer Cured ~ Counting Days

Summer sits
in pale green blocks
in the loft sunlight sneaks
‘tween ancient boards painting streaks
bright broad to narrow strokes
on bales of darker green alfalfa
and second cutting grass
stacked like children’s playthings
in neat rows, mostly,
except when one is wrenched askew
and others shift around it crookedly.

‘Merely hay’ some folks may chide
know not the secrets locked inside
orange and sisal baling twine
holding summer wrapped and dried.
‘Merely hay’ to those who only see the shape,
green sticks, picky, prickly, trying to escape.
Feed for cattle, horses, sheep…
They do not see the country-dance
of sweaty bodies throwing bales,
or smell full-bodied summer’s green
waiting for release as twine is cut,
the bale opened, sending out aroma
sweet to nose of one who knows
this delicate perfume
inhaling deep rich odors bring
warm thoughts of summer’s breeze…
Yet, when I try to share this
most folks only sneeze!

Still,
Summer rests in pale green blocks
counting done by timeless clocks.
Days pass, rows disappear
Bales are counting out the year…
Sitting high up in the loft
Smelling hay, feeling soft
chilly winters are endured
inhaling smells of summer
so carefully cured.

Edited slightly January 29, 2001 Copyright Betsy Lewis

Poetry is meant to be heard, read aloud. Thank you Jim for the discussion about reading poetry out loud. Reminded me of this, which was published because I called an editor, read it out loud to him and he said “Yes, send it right away, please!” It was in print the next week.

May we all remember our “just do it” experiences and then just do it!

Namaste ~ Star Bear