So I've been sick the last several days. I've had the kind of sickness where you can't sleep, eating is difficult, and you don't feel like moving in any direction at all. Therefore, I spent the better part of the last three days on the couch. And, since I was on the couch, I played in my Netflix account, looking for something fun to stream.
(As a side note...that last sentence is something my MOTHER would not have ever said. In fact, I would have never uttered those words all in a row five years ago. Ah progress!)
I love documentaries, and you can stream all kinds of wonders on Netflix. Generally I dig through anything World War II, but this weekend I found something a bit different: Meet The Fokkens. The Fokken sisters, Louise and Martine, are identical twins who have been working the red light district in Amsterdam for the past 50 years.
Let's read that again: Those two sisters in that picture right there have been prostitutes for the better part of the last five decades. Now one of them...and I'll be honest, I couldn't keep them straight because through the entire documentary they wore exactly the same clothes. One had a little dog and one didn't, and that was the only difference. Anyway, one of them is retired. She has arthritis and wasn't able to bend as much as her clients wanted her to. So...there's that.
The other one is STILL WORKING. She sits in her little window and men come up to her and then she...well, she does what she does. (And yes, there are some graphic moments of video and yes they are disturbing and no, you should not watch this with your children or your parents in the same city.) And she says she has to keep doing it because her state pension isn't so good.
There's a state pension for prostitutes in Amsterdam? They really are open over there, aren't they?
The retired one paints. What does she paint? Lovely water colors of rivers?
So, she paints pictures of genitalia. Sometimes people are attached to them and sometimes not. So...there's that.
Now the documentary is almost two hours long. That's a lot of time to watch these two geriatric ladies have tea, walk that dippy little dog, and then one strips down to her underthings to spank old men while the other fills giant canvases with huge lady and man bits.
Okay, I'm an American and here these things are still shocking. And maybe they should be.
Or maybe not.
There's a lot to be shocked about in this world. War, genocide, rape, crimes committed against children, the cost of gas in the US when we are the #1 oil producing country in the world. (Another sentence I never thought I'd ever utter.) Is it really shocking or disturbing, what these two ladies do? Or is this just one of those pieces of real life where you look at it and you say, "Isn't that something?"
It's the same with writing. I've read a lot of books and I'll read many more. There isn't a genre I won't read, and if it's done well, I'll enjoy it. I don't live in those books. I don't live in that world. Books give me an opportunity to look into another world for a bit and say, "Isn't that something?"
I read a very long article, and I forget the source, it was one of those things passed down on Face Book, that was basically chiding Amazon for making books so cheap. Suddenly, the article was saying, books aren't special now that everyone can afford them.
That's not a quote, but it's darn close.
I'm sorry, what?
Are we back in the Dark Ages where the only people allowed to have books are the clergy? (That didn't turn out so well, did it?) We needed Gutenberg and his printing press to bring books, most famously the Bible, but books in general, to the masses. Books are to be read. They are to be read by EVERYONE.
|Martha Merrill's Books...you can get all of mine there!|
If people cannot afford print books...and with print costs rises almost as fast as gas, they can't...they will not read books. New stories, not only by indie authors, but by big names, will not sell. Stephen King was, many years ago, on the cusp of the e-book generation. J. A. Konrath is a prophet for e-book publishing. The goal of any author is to get the story in people's hands. Above all, we want to be read! We don't just want to be read by people who can afford a $34 hardcover book. We want to be read by EVERYONE.
Don't have a Kindle or a Nook or an e-reader? Don't need one! Want to read tons of indie books for $2.99 or less? (many are free!) Check out websites like Smashwords.com. There you can download a book to your computer and read it there. Not the most comfortable way to read it, but once you've paid for it, you can print it out and poof! You have the file on your computer and you can still read it in the tub! All for less than the cost of a cup of coffee at a gas station.
Is everything out there awesome and great and life affirming? Much like Netflix documentaries, NO. Some of those books are not great. Everything is a crap shoot, whether you're going to a movie, buying a CD, or reading a book. You might like it. You might not. At least, with online publishing, you're rarely out more than $2.99. The upside is you can get in on the ground floor of an author learning his or her craft. Isn't is super cool when we can say, "Well, I've been reading that author since her first book came out, and I've always known she was awesome."
Friends, there are links on this page to every single one of my books and right now, not a one of them is going to cost you more than $1.99. I believe every one has the right to read a book and every story, no matter how disturbing I might find it, has every right to be read.
Now, go forth and buy my books...and then go read a bunch and then go forth and WRITE!