First, a quick update on my books. I’m still waiting for Singularity Deferred to get accepted into the premium catalog, which will put the book into Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes. Until then, I’m not really advertising in any significant way its existence on Smashwords and Amazon. Once I can officially say, “Available everywhere ebooks are sold,” I’m spamming the world! (Okay, not really. I kinda like not being hated. But I’ll be letting people know, easy like.)
However, without any advertising at all, it’s selling pretty well already, somehow! Eighteen copies in two weeks. Yeah, that doesn’t sound like much, but when you consider no marketing, and most self-published people on Smashwords sell 0, that’s not bad! My ultimate goal is to be able to sell enough on this book and my short story collection, to be able to make a car payment a month. With the next book, up that to rent each month. I think it’s do-able.
Brust & artists
So, Steven Brust is one of my all-time favorite writers, let alone fantasy writers. I’ll explain in a later post how I first got introduced to his work, the Dragaera series, and how he took the time to reply to an email way back in ’96, and his opening the door for my exploring Marxian criticism. My novel I just spoke of, Singularity Deferred–while I don’t directly imitate his style, the voice of his hero, Vlad Taltos, who is usually the 1st-person narrator of the Dragaera books, it was a very heavy influence.
Anyway, so, he posted on his blog several days ago a recent health scare he suffered. A potentially very serious health scare! After Maurice Sendak’s recent passing, my thoughts have turned to the mortality of the people who inspire you, and I’m both depressed and, ironically, gladdened that they had the chance to affect my life. I do hope Brust continues to have a long and healthy life. …and not just because he must finish his Vlad books! *evil grin* But seriously: his flair, his hat and mustache, his music and Renaissance Fair panache, would be sorely missed — even by those of us who have never met him.
On a related note, this part of his post disturbs me greatly:
I’m told I could use an operation to insert something into my chest that will shock my heart if it goes into, uh, I don’t remember. Ventrical a-fib, maybe? But it’s supposed to keep me alive. I can no more afford the operation than I can pay the hospital bills I just incurred, BUT….
I met with a social worker, who seems confident she can get me heath care–enough to help with those bills[...]
The U.S. is the only modern nation in which people go without lifesaving healthcare because they can’t afford it. Now, I try not to get political on this blog (that’s what Facebook is for), except when critiquing a work, but this very directly affects artists, like us writers. If you live in the U.S., it’s almost impossible to be an artist unless you’re single, young and healthy, and can risk living without health insurance. (Technically, no one can risk being without health insurance, considering everything from a car wreak to cancer can happen to you no matter what your age.)
The only reason I can’t devote myself full-time to my writing, the reason it’s taken me years to write anything significant, and I can’t put more writing out in a timely manner, much less make my publishing imprint viable, is because I’m forced to treat all that as a hobby in my spare time as I have to work full-time for the health insurance to cover my family. Don’t get me wrong, I like my full-time day job OK–it could be worse. But I’m trapped and chained to a job that’s my second choice, unable to do what I love, because of our country’s for-profit insurance-based “healthcare” system.
I’ve seen blog after blog, post after post, article after article, of people in Canada and Europe, who are able to spend those crucial early years honing their craft by throwing themselves completely into it, unafraid of how they’re going to be able to afford a broken leg or a bout of pneumonia, knowing there’s no such thing as going bankrupt for having the audacity to want to be healthy and well.
Okay, again, sorry for the rant; I promise it’s a rare occasion. The subject just really, really bothers me. People whose occupation is to write our culture’s novels, paint our art, compose our music, shouldn’t be forced to choose among not doing those things, becoming financially ruined paying the bills for staying alive despite producing a career full of works, or choosing to not have medically necessary treatments. Nobody should be forced to die because they can’t afford life-saving treatment.
Xeni Jardin of, among other things, BoingBoing.net, has been posting healthcare relevant articles lately as she’s been dealing with her own cancer. One recent article has a collection of stories by people in the U.S. who have had family members who have died from disease because they couldn’t afford the treatments and chose not to tell their family about it until too late, so as to spare them the financial ruin and destitution of medical costs.
And, unlike every other modern nation, we’ve set ours up so that our artists and creators are unfairly more often than not the victims of this for-profit health care insurance system. It’s very depressing.