What is Art Worth?
And who is willing to pay it?
Hey there. If you’re new here, welcome!
Can you believe that, by this time next week, my first novel will be out of my hands and into the world? It’s wild.
It’s been a blur of a week, but in some cool and exciting ways. Of note:
My newsletter takeover went out yesterday to about 40,000 people. You might be one of them. If you are, thanks for joining us over here! I was going to share some of it here, but I don’t want to go too long, so I’m going to save it.
On Monday, I was interviewed by our local TV station about the book. That interview should come out on Friday.
I started really doing TikTok. (It’s actually not that bad.)
My boss at my day job (you know, that thing I do so I can afford to write the rest of the time) had a baby and he’s the bestest and squishiest and now I have new responsibilities at work, which I enjoy but which also take time. Who knew!
This Note will probably be on the shorter side! (I say that now. 😂)
Here are some things to you can do to help me (and WWWM) out this week:
Don’t buy it until after the 17th. If you’ve already purchased a pre-order, that’s totally cool! (And also, THANK YOU SO FREAKING MUCH!) If you haven’t, I’d very very much appreciate it if you’d wait until next week. The reasons are complicated, and I’ll maybe explain them one day, but I’m just going to ask you to trust me on this one. If you’re sleuthing around the internet trying to find the book, it will be there. But please try and resist the temptation to buy it before publication day. Also, the ebook will likely be on sale for a deep, DEEP discount next week.
If you have read the book and haven’t already written up your review, now is a time. Save it as a draft somewhere, or put it on Goodreads, so that when the book is out on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the like, you’ll be ready to toss it in there! More reviews (especially from verified purchases) means more people on the internet will see the book.
Let me know if you have a good Book Club question. I’m going to write a set of them for Nicci’s Notes readers, and more than one brain is better than one brain, as the saying goes. Email me, leave a comment, or reply to this email if you’d like to offer yours up for consideration.
What is Art Worth?
In a continuation of my out-of-order impromptu series on creativity, I have a brief rumination that came out of the AI discussion from last week.
Should AI/robots be restricted to doing only things that are dangerous and undesirable for humans to do? I’m thinking repetitive and easily replicable tasks, mining, idk—things that have a high likelihood of killing or maiming a person, or things that would be made much more productive by the use of a robot.
To me, even that looks like lost jobs and livelihoods for the people who do those jobs. The argument, then, is that not having to work those jobs would free people up for more creative endeavors. To which I respond, “But most people don’t get paid a living wage for their creative endeavors.”
In Viola Davis’ book, Finding Me, she said something like 95% of actors don’t work and only 1% make more than $50,000 per year. That’s not a living wage for a family in Los Angeles or New York, where most acting opportunities are. The same goes for writing, art, you name it. And we are living in an age where people want to consume art, but they don’t want to pay for it. Most creators can’t make a living on their creativity alone. They might work on freelancing or commissions; many, even non-writers, turn to writing (like here on Substack) to supplement their income.
Of course, this is where a universal basic income might come into play…if we, as a society, were progressive enough and valued our citizenry enough to guarantee that everyone living under our umbrella wouldn’t have to worry about going hungry or choosing between back-breaking labor and personal and intellectual fulfillment. I don’t see that happening, at least in the U.S., anytime soon.
What do you think? Is there a future for us where creators and our creations are valued?
What’s Exciting Me?
Also, I booked a vacation this week and let’s just say February school vacation can’t come soon enough.
What’s Entertaining Me?
I’m a boring broken record on this front, for the most part.
White Lotus, Season 2 - we have two episodes left, and the whole thing is like a train wreck. I don’t really know if I even like it, and I hate most of the characters, but I need to know what happens next.
The Wire, Season 3 - I’m attached to these guys now. I want Kima to connect more with her wife and kid. I want McNulty to stop drinking so much. I want Bunk … also to stop drinking so much. I want Avon to figure out Stringer’s game, but also I don’t because I really love Stringer and I don’t see him getting out of this season alive. And Omar. The Robin Hood of East Baltimore. I am quite attached to him.
LEGO Masters, just because.
And, finally, a new book—and one I highly recommend: Atomic Anna (pronounced like Anna from Frozen) by Rachel Barenbaum. A historical fiction time travel novel based mostly in the Soviet Union and Philadelphia that poses the question: If you go back in time and stop something terrible from happening, will things get better, or worse? I’m more than halfway through and I love the way the author constructed this narrative through multiple timelines and perspectives. I’ve got a book like that hanging out on my hard drive, and I know how hard it is to keep up the attention to detail.
What’s Enlightening Me?
The depressing realization above: In my lifetime, I will probably never see a society that assigns creativity a value commensurate with its ability to touch, teach, and heal. That makes me sad, but also makes me consider creating a more holistic plan for making a living. I’ve long known that most creators have to piecemeal income streams together in a way traditional employees don’t have to. That’s not inherently bad, but it does require a bit more planning than just showing up at work each day and waiting for the paycheck to come like I did when I was teaching or waitressing or stocking shelves at CVS.
Anyway, that’s enough of that. I’m going to try not to melt into a puddle while I figure out the various things I’ve been putting off figuring out about this whole publishing thing.
I’ll see you soon—maybe sooner than you expect. 😉