Money and creative freedom

WEDNESDAY, 14 JANUARY 2004

Money for free, creative writing? This literary project as part of the commercial marketplace?

My position can be summed up in two phrases: the Creative End Product and the Creative Process.

If commercial acceptability is the primary motivation during the creative process, the end product is not free expression. It is a different matter altogether if commercial acceptability of the end product is not even considered during the creative process, but the end product still seems to have some commercial value.

If you as a writer are known to be starkly critical of corporations, shameless profiteering, and the surrender of creative freedom at a “reasonable” price, what are you if you then turn around and submit your creative work to a corporation primarily interested in financial gain? Even more so when you submit it to an agent of this corporation who deems it as a right to make changes to your work in order to bring it more in line with the values of the corporate “sponsor” and according to what he or she considers would make the product more enjoyable, and therefore a potentially more profitable product.

It is ultimately about honesty. It’s about honouring the reputation you have established for yourself, in both word and deed.

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[Note: There are also publishers – businesses that have to keep an eye on the bottom line for their survival – that regard certain literary material as more than just marketable products. It may be that these publishers also serve a certain political agenda, and changes they might suggest would simply make the final product more digestible to the potential reader; changes that would enhance the literary quality of the end product rather than water down the content or message in order to sell more copies. A case, thus, where the agenda of the publishing company is compatible with that of the author for whom creative integrity is more important than financial success.]

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