Wednesday, April 29, 2009
When does a request for a favor become a demand?
I am a firm believer in paying it forward and if I see someone with tenacity, talent, integrity who has worked hard to make a dent in their industry and I can lend a hand, offer a little advice, make a recommendation or help them make a valuable connection, I will. I will do it gladly. That being said, it’s hard to do favors for others and not feel that they owe you. I’ve had to work on that. I’ve come to realize that the universe will reward your good deeds in ways you can’t imagine and it’s rarely going to come from the person whom you helped. If you do a ‘favor’ for someone they’ve not requested and immediately turn around and demand a return on your investment, that’s really kinda lame. It really isn’t a favor, it’s a bargaining chip.
Expectation is a slippery slope with a most uncomfortable landing pad.
What makes doing good deeds cool; is that you never quite know how they’re going to come back to you. Plus, let’s be honest people, when we do nice things for other people we are getting a really good feeling inside. That really good feeling of having done something nice is a big part of why we do nice things for others. In fact, helping someone else is on several levels really all about us. Isn’t it?
The Golden Rule doesn’t have a caveat. I believe it says: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Not: “Do unto others as you expect them to do unto you. Make sure you remind them of their obligation to do unto you after you’ve done unto them at every given future opportunity until they’ve done unto you in a manner that is commensurate with your initial doing unto them.”
Everything I’ve built has happened because I was willing to dream it and do the hard work. I find it difficult to ask for favors, even from people whom I know well. No one has handed me anything, in fact my husband often muses about how hard won all of my success has been. Perhaps that makes it all the sweeter, but at the very least it makes it mine. People can shine the light on the pathway, but you, my dear, must traverse it alone. I feel that the best favor I can do for others is to lead by example, to share my stories of triumph and tragedy and the details of ways in which I’ve created my success. If you want it, you’ll find a pathway to it. If you don’t...you didn’t want it badly enough.
So please don’t do me any favors if there are strings attached. Those kinds of favors I can truly do without. If you want me to do you a favor, ask nicely and don’t quibble if I say 'no.' There’s probably a very good reason.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I work really hard each and every day to come up with unique and inspiring ideas. My goal in life is to inspire creativity. I love seeing people riff on my ideas, because that’s a dialogue. In the classical music period, musicians had musical dialogues with snippets of music called motifs. They were expanding on each other’s ideas in creative and fascinating ways. Jazz musicians also do this. That’s the sort of dialogue I want to have with my readers. I also love knowing that they’re making the designs I’ve created and enjoying them as is. That’s a really wonderful feeling.
I don’t so much love finding out someone has co-opted my work as their own. That’s...the complete opposite of the point. It’s a subtle distinction, but let me see if I can’t clarify.
My blog, my books and my magazine projects all have a common thread. They’re protected by copyrights. That means if you want to reproduce a project I’ve shared with you for yourself, that’s my intention. I want you to do that! That’s why I make and share projects! If you want to give said project to a friend or family member as a gift, that’s fabulous! But...and here’s the big but...if you want to copy said project and make it into a kit, a class or a design for profit...that’s not okay. It’s okay to take a technique I’ve shown you and make your own unique design and sell that, because then you’ve engaged in a dialogue. Can you see the distinction?
If you copy and paste the picture of my project or an entire post into your blog or on your website without my express permission, that’s also not okay. The internet has created a free for all when it comes to horking intellectual property and I’m here today along with other artists to start staking our claims to our work.
The problem is that everything is so easy to take from the internet, so it seems less wrong to take it freely. It is, however, wrong.
If you copy someone’s art work and sell it for profit, you’re stealing. Do you steal regularly? Do you feel entitled to walk into a store and take things off of the shelves without paying for them? Do you hork stuff from your friends’ houses? If you visit them and see a vase you really like, do you feel entitled to plunk it into your purse?
Intellectual property is property. Artists and musicians and creative people work incredibly hard and they deserve to be paid for their work just like everyone else. Illegally downloading a movie or a song is stealing. Pirating software is stealing. Copying and pasting a copyright protected image into your blog without permission or credit is stealing. Uploading a segment from a TV show to YouTube is stealing. Copying an image that is under copyright, printing it and reproducing it in your artwork is stealing. Copying a design, reproducing it and selling it for profit is stealing. (On a side note it is okay to use images you cut out of books or magazines in collages, it’s just not okay to copy them and use them multiple times. See the difference? One is recycling, the other is theft.)
Anytime you co-opt someone else’s professional creative output for personal gain or profit or even for your personal pleasure without paying for it, you are breaking copyright laws. These laws can be very expensive to enforce, so you may just get away with it. Lots of people do. That doesn’t make it right. Because it is theft and theft isn’t right. It’s becoming a rampant and serious problem with the boom of the internet. People who create for a living have the same right to make a living as everyone else.
I see my work in projects sold to magazines and in ads for manufacturers and even winning design contests, only it’s actually other people copying my work. What incredible audacity it must take to steal someone’s work and claim it as your own. The way I see it, if you aren’t creative enough to make your unique designs or to give due credit when you are inspired by someone else’s work; you probably shouldn’t be selling your work. I’m just sayin’.
This topic gets everyone all kerfuffled. Even artists can’t agree on what is and what is not copyright infringement. If we can’t agree or if we’re so afraid of being unpopular we can’t take a public stand against copycats and copyright infringers...well I’m afraid this sort of activity will continue.
For the record, I am taking a stand. I have no interest in making lazy people easy money. If you want to sell kits, classes, projects for publication or finished goods, use your fertile imagination. I want you to make my designs and wear them and enjoy them. I want you to be inspired by my work to expand into new directions and most of all I want to see you become empowered to make your own unique designs. If you want pictures to post on your blog, take them yourself, use stock photos, permission free images or credit the source, if you’re thinking about taking my pictures or text from my blog or website make sure you ask permission and that if I grant it...you give me credit.
So every time you illegally download a song or a movie or copy software or sell a copy of someone else’s work in your Etsy shop or copy and paste a picture from a Google search into your blog, think about what I just told you. It’s not okay.
If you'd like to participate in educating the public about this topic, please post a blog this week and I will share your link with my readers in a group link post. We can't complain if we aren't willing to take a stand.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I pride myself on my communication skills and yet, sometimes I’m about as clear as mud. I’m not quitting blogging! I merely took down my archives so that I could reclaim them, reorganize them, edit them, expound upon them and use them as the seeds and the fertilizer for several books. They will be life crafting books, humor books, autobiographical fictional books and perhaps a novel or two. When a person turns their blog into a book it’s called a blook. I own the copyrights to all of my material, as you can see when you look at the creative commons license on my side bar. I can do with it as I choose. It also follows that no one else can use any of my material without my express permission. It’s not the property of the internet merely because I posted it here. I did this in a public forum to help inspire other women to do the same. I did it to live out loud. I did it to be authentic. These posts were my little messages in bottles to the universe. That was my gift.
I now choose to take three years of writing and use it as I had originally intended, as the material I could mine for books. I told myself for years I couldn’t write a book because I’m too impatient, but this blog proved me wrong. By forcing myself to write every day for two years and to continue writing when inspired for a third, I found the self discipline I didn’t know I had. By doing it in a public forum, I couldn't cheat. It feels good to look though three years of musings and find that in and amongst them are some pretty good ideas. There’s also a lot of self indulgent drivel, which I shall pare away.
This is an ending and a beginning, as all endings are.
“And to make a beginning there must be an end. The end is where we start from.” T.S. Eliot
So don’t be ‘afeared’ my little cherry dumplings, Madgie isn’t going away! She’s just reinventing herself again. It’s what she does. I was feeling stuck, so I unstuck myself. It was harder than I thought it would be, but I think it was a very good idea. Perhaps I’ve broken some internet taboo...rules schmules...we all know I’m not so good at following the rules.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Several years ago we moved into our little school house. I finally got a real studio and I began to virally market myself via the tangled mess they call The Interwebs. This blog began as challenge I made to write every day for a year. I managed to do that for two years, with a few days off now and again for travel or sickness or real life. In the third year, I gave myself a reprieve and started blogging when I had time. I started a second blog that was entirely focused on my craft career and promoting my brand. It's been three years now, and I can't believe it!
The Impatient Blogger was and is my guilty pleasure. I poured my heart and my soul into each post. I shared some of my deepest, darkest feelings, secrets and stories here. I gave total strangers a glimpse into my life as I traversed it with whatever grace I could muster on a day to day basis. I didn't candy coat it and I didn't make believe. What you read was what you got.
Then one day I woke up and realized that it was ready. The little buzzer went off. I'd acheived my objective and I'd amassed almost 1000 posts that had within them the seeds of several interesting books. I decided it was time to pull the curtain closed, take my posts offline and begin the arduous process of editing them. So here we are. It wasn't an easy decision, but as long as I left the archives up, I'd never be able to dissect it and reconfigure them.
So I thank each of you who has been willing to take this journey with me. Your insightful comments, your encouraging emails, your cheers when I was down, every bit of it means more to me than I can ever, ever express. I'll still be blogging regularly next door at my craft blog, but I won't be quite as transparent there. I'll pop back over here now and again when I simply can't resist a good rant or a stream of naughty words. I'm not leaving, I'm just starting over.
If I manage to get this material organized and published, you'll be the first to know. It was just time to reclaim it for me. It's still out there. I can't completely erase it, but it was time to bring it home.
And to each of you I say, "Live out loud. Color outside of the lines. Create without filters. Be bold, be brave and be brilliant. Life is short, be sparkly."