Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Revolution

It begins more or less here, then continues here and here. Being sublimely ignorant about the goings on of the Sf/F writing community on the whole, my awareness is to be credited to my friend The Book Pimp.

The major point of the flapdoodle seems to be that a particular author and representative of a particular writer's association has declared, in rather inflammatory language, that any person who allows his or her writing to be read online, free of charge, is in effect diminishing the livlihood of those writers who chose not to do so and instead struggle to be paid to publish. At first blush it seems to indict said "free" writers of a sort of deliberate campaign to devalue paid publishing. In any case, I've not explored the comments of those who agree with the particular author and representative, but the original arguement does little to sway me.

Yes, I am among those who have published my writing without charge to the reader. I had no idea that by doing so I was directly competing and, in fact, stealing, from published and paid authors. I would be more likely to think that I would need to be published to do that, in as much as if my book and another author's book sat side by side on a bookstore shelf, a potential buyer would chose one and not the other, in the matter of captialistic retail as I understand its operation.

In any case, I am not necessarily a professional level writer, but I feel drawn to stand in line with the rest of the pixel-stained technopeasants as a writer and reader of freely provided web-published writing. With that in mind, I am printing below a piece of non SF/F short fiction (because that's what I have short enough to post here) for your free reading. Professionallism and quality may be questionable, but, hey, it's free.

Movies

“I don’t like watching movies with other people,” Kelly said as she clicked buttons on the remote control, sending the selector passed the movie channels.

“Why not?” Mark flipped through the newspaper TV schedule half-heartedly.

She settled on a documentary about World War II spies. “It’s like masturbating with an audience. It should be private.”

A blush crept up his neck and he diverted his eyes from her profile to the shelves of videos along the wall. “You sure have a lot of movies. You never watch them with anyone else?”

She grabbed a handful of popcorn, picking one fluffy kernel at a time and popping it into her mouth. “Not the first time. When it’s a virgin movie, I’d rather watch it by myself. After I’ve seen it, then it’s no big deal. Just the first time is important.”

He dropped the newspaper onto the floor and dug a hand into the popcorn bowl. “You watch a lot of documentaries?”

“Yeah. I like the ‘real’ part of it.” She pointed at the screen with the hand half full of popcorn. “Like this. This really happened. It’s real.”

“Hmm.” He watched the TV flicker a grainy montage of tanks and gunfire. “I like going to the movies with a whole crowd. It’s fun.”

She grabbed another handful of popcorn. “Well, yeah, for some movies. I mean, something where it’s just a bunch of explosions and car chases or space ships or something like that. That’s nothing to think about, you just get into it and then it’s over. But real movies…” Her voice faded as a particularly gruesome segment flashed onto the screen and he glanced sideways at her.

“Yeah?”

“Those are different.”

“How, different?”

She shrugged and adjusted the volume with the remote. “I guess it’s because you’re allowed to cry or get angry or sit and think about things. No action heroes or stuff like that. Sometimes I like to cry at the movies.”

He let the television replace conversation for a few minutes. “You mean, like, even if I offered to take you to a chick flick, you wouldn’t go?”

She shook her head, her eyes on the screen. “Nah. You’d sit and squirm and pretend to be all interested for about ten minutes, then you’d make fun of everything because you were bored.”

He frowned at the side of her face. “I wouldn’t do that.”

“Sure you would. You can’t help it.”

The documentary faded to commercials and he stared doggedly at the TV. “You just assume I would because some jerk you dated before did.”

She shrugged. “No, it’s a guy thing. That’s why they call them chick flicks. Made for women.” She pointed at the TV. “See? That car commercial is made for men. I mean, they put a slinky blonde in the car and she drives around with the wind in her hair. That makes men think the car is sexy. So they buy that car and they pretend the woman will be in it when they come to drive it home.”

“That is so bullshit,” he replied. “It’s like you’re saying that just because I’ve got balls, they are all I can think with.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“You meant it.” He leaned over, picked up the paper, and pretended to study it intently.

“God, Mark. No, I didn’t.” She crossed her arms over her chest and pushed back into the couch. “I didn’t say it and I didn’t mean it. I was talking about car commercials.”

He let his indignation fade. “Ok, car commercials. So they use sex to get men’s attention. They use sex to get women’s attention, too.”

“Sometimes, but it’s different.”

The commercials ended. Black and white documentary photos of uniformed men lined up across the screen while the narrator recited a list of names. His newspaper sagged as he watched. “So what’s different? They stick Fabio up with a piece of bread and a plastic thing of butter, and that’s not the same thing?”

“No. A woman doesn’t imagine Fabio comes in that tub of butter. She doesn’t even think the butter will make some man like Fabio show up. She knows perfectly well that if she eats that butter, she’ll get fat, and if she’s fat, no man will look at her. She buys that butter because, when she’s fat, she can eat it on her toast and make believe Fabio is sitting across the table.”

He was quiet for a while. “You aren’t fat,” he said to the TV.

“I don’t buy butter.”

He shrugged. “I cry at movies, sometimes.”

“Yeah, like when Simba’s father got killed?”

“Jeez, Kel, but you’re a hard ass.” He tossed the half folded pages of the newspaper at her. She batted them away.

“No, that’s not what I meant.” She turned around on the couch and looked at him. “I mean, I really cried when I saw The Lion King.”

He looked at the floor and grinned. “Me, too.”

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