Going On The Account: Reading Another’s Rutter

I had a brief what-am-I-doing-here contemplative moment between washing down the bathroom, doing the dishes, having my son show me his latest YouTube find,  and getting more work done on the novel and a few other projects.  Yes, the glamorous life of a writer…


So while I’m goofing off getting some reading done, I come across an update on Ben Kweller’s music career.  For those asking, “Who?”, Ben had been the front man for Radish, a group that helped draw attention to the “Sugar Metal” scene, and was the subject of a major profile piece in THE NEW YORKER.


What strikes me as I read the TIMES piece is how much where he ended up is close to where I am now, doing much of the actual work from the living room (still a mess; have to deal with that soon…) and being hands-on over a large portion of the operation.  Which is something that really needs to be stressed to anyone wanting to be a writer these days.


There may still be a few folks out there who imagine that when you write and get yourself published, that there’s still this organization you can turn to that will handle the mundane “busy work” for you and allow you to write.  Once upon a time maybe, but the slots for those posting are going away, getting more exclusive when they do open up.  The reality is now, you want to be  a writer, you have to be able to know something beyond good story-telling, like how a distribution chain works, what constitutes a good deal with partners you may find for pieces of the business like royalty disbursements should you luckily find an ancillary revenue stream for your work, and a deep understanding of what I just said in this sentence.

And please, if you do understand these elements of the business but feel the “good story-telling” element is secondary (and you know who you are), there’s a few pieces of real estate in various imagined after-lifes  I’d recommend to you…

The takeaway is, not to bitch too fine a point on it,  that we need to do a better job of informing the writers who want to participate that there’s more to what we do than just sitting down to write.  Now that we have the means to get out there and get our voices heard, we also need to manage that aspect of it a lot better.

Because if we’re seeing elements of this so clearly in the music business, which has had a very convoluted history of complex relations between artist and label, then maybe we need to consider whether the whole writer-publisher experience needs to be rethought before we make too many more of those mistakes ourselves…

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