So I went to a picnic recently and struck up a conversation with a dude. He seemed like a nice dude. Pleasant. Conversant. Light hearted. In the course of the conversation we spoke about e-books and he asked if I was going to list them as free. And here come’s the good part:
“No, I wish I could actually but I just can’t. It’s not financially feasible for me.” I said.
“But the podcasts are free.”
“Yes and I’m still paying that off.” I said.
“That’s too bad, you should make them free. All those e-books should be free.”
“Well, I don’t think writer’s could afford that. I know I couldn’t.”
THEN HE SAID: “Get a job. That way you could list them for free.”
The only time I am dumbstruck is when two thoughts in my brain collide. A physical instinct: to punch him in the throat. And the idea: relax he’s just kidding.
So I blinked and waited a beat. Then laughed. Then stopped laughing. Blink. Blink. Questions and thoughts were racing through my mind. Is he stupid? Is he kidding? If I punch him in the throat my partner and her friend who was hosting the picnic will be mad at me. But how mad? And finally realizing that in fact he was not kidding he is just ignorant. Then I became fascinated by his thoughts. He believed all art should be free. But commercial art like going to the movies or a theatre people should pay because there was rent involved to the art houses. He didn’t seem stoned or drunk, mind you. He was sober while saying this. So, what if I rent an office while I write, does that make me commercial? I asked him. No, he said, because I could write at home. I don’t need an office to write. Isn’t he clever? He should run for president of the United States.
I simply explained to him that writing was my job. I work for myself. I write, produce, and publish my work. Therefore I see myself as a commercial enterprise and as such in would not be in my company’s interests to give away products that it takes hundreds of man-hours to produce. I said that in one breath. It was his turn to blink.
I had heard of these people but had never encountered one in the wild. He had no idea that he was being insulting and debasing to writers at large. He was just offering his insights – to make the e-world a better place. I could have questioned him into a corner using his own failed logic thereby enlightening him. But I didn’t. Everyone’s entitled to his or her opinions. And besides I learned a long time ago you cannot argue with crazy people, two year olds, and the willfully ignorant.