|Connie, by Don Starnes, 2011|
Of course I’m using a “disruptive technology,” self-publishing, so I get what I deserve! I.e., so far not much in the way of reviews or attention. But also, as Don says, I am working “against story.” It may seem that I am naïve, or misunderstand the business of writing. But that is not the case. These books are exactly what I intend. Unpretentious characters, an atmosphere informed by my own life and what I know to have happened, an organic unfolding unlike what anyone could have predicted. This results in a vivid liveliness which contrived plots cannot match. A few readers have grown to love the characters and cannot wait to hear more about them.
And there is more. The currently written books leave off in about 1979. Line has a house full of kids, but wants work of her own, Marty’s marriage appears precarious and Paul is about to begin a new life in a new place. Where will their fortunes take them? Next year I will be working on their further lives in Nature’s Stricter Lessons. If all goes well, there will be three more books.
There is one other area in which I may be “disruptive.” One of my friends worried that perhaps I ought to have the permission of the Lenny Bruce estate, since the poster of him we had on our wall in Ann Arbor, Michigan, appears in a cover photograph. In fact, throughout the books, I quote snippets of the songs which so affected everyone I knew. The book titles themselves come from well-known songs. I believe that I use this material in the context of “fair use” of copyrighted material. Where songs are not well-known, I note the songwriter’s names in the text.
In the front of each book we state: "The author believes that all quotations in this book have been used under the 'commentary and criticism' fair use of copyrighted materials." The “fair use” doctrines, as they continue to be litigated, are based on the purpose of one’s use, the amount used and the effect of use on the value of the copyrighted work. As Ed Black, president of Computer and Communications Industry Association, says, “Fair use is the foundation of the digital age and a cornerstone of our economy.” Don too says, "If we want to have a culture, we must be able to quote from each other freely." In general, I believe that my quotes will enhance the use of copyrighted material, reminding people of its existence!
Books exist somewhere in the space between the reader and the writer. A book must leave space for the reader to become involved. The writer cannot, and should not, do all the work. If you read reviews, which are everywhere now, you will note that each tells quite a bit about the reviewer. Even professional reviewers, if not telling much about themselves, often reveal where their bread is buttered! The conversation is endless. It is what makes up a culture. What writers want, is to be part of the conversation. It is certainly why we write.