Wednesday, May 09, 2007

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Living By Your Wits

I’ve noticed something interesting and rather, in my opinion, hypocritical, in several on-line writer’s forums.

Many of the participants classify writers. Not just the age-old struggle between “literary” writers and “commercial” writers (which, fortunately, in this age of marketing-before-all-especially-before-writing seems to be winding down). But many of these writers consider the only “real” writers to be those who write fiction.

Today, as you go through your day, look around and see how much you read in passing: a newspaper, a billboard, a brochure, information on a website, watch a commercial in between programs. All of these bits were written by someone. Someone who is making a living doing this.

A writer who is walking the walk and making a living by his or her pen.

What’s interesting about the so-called writers who huff and puff and look down their pens at working writers is that most of them aren’t published. Oh, yes, they’re working on a novel, but, you see, there’s really no time, what with the husband or wife, and the children’s activities and all that. But, they’re thinking about the novel they’ll write someday; meanwhile, they’re going to get an agent for it and work on a marketing plan.

Of course, they don’t have to count on their writing in order to live. Either they have a 9-5 job they hate and plan to write “when they get around to it” or they’re living off a spouse’s full-time job.

A writer is someone who writes. Not someone who talks about doing it “when there’s time”, but someone who puts the butt down in the chair and gets it done.

The next phase of that life is to get paid for one’s work. When you have to pay the rent and bills by your pen, you learn quite quickly to get rid of the lack of time or the blocks, or whatever other excuses keep you from doing the work. You sit down and don’t get up until it’s done. You learn to compress the process to fit the deadline. You get the work in on time – and with quality – in order to get the check.

Arthur Miller once told me, “You’ll never be a writer until you have to rely on it for your income” and he was right. Once it’s life-or-death, all the obstacles evaporate – if you’re going to survive.

How many of you have the courage to survive by your pen? Because, in addition to talent and a strong work ethic, courage is the enormous component in the equation. Being a writer is genuinely “living by your wits.”

--Devon Ellington

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Rankin To Mix It With Royalty

Edinburgh-based crime writer, Ian Rankin, was last week appointed one of five new Deputy Lieutenants of Edinburgh.

The honour, announced by Lord Provost Lesley Hinds, means the Rebus author has the responsibility of deputising for Cllr. Hinds during Royal visits to the city when she is unable to attend.

Rankin was appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant during a ceremony along with four other high profile people who she felt had made a significant contribution to Edinburgh life. In the past such appointments only went to high-ranking members of the military.

Cllr. Hinds said: "This is a fantastic opportunity to recognise hard working contributors to Edinburgh's community, business and cultural assets. Reinvigorating an ancient tradition in this way makes the point that Edinburgh is a city that can build on its past while looking to the future. This is the face of the 21st century."

Deputy Lieutenants have been appointed in Edinburgh since the year 1569. There are currently 20 active Deputy Lieutenants, each expected to stay in office for 10 years or until they turn 75, which ever comes first.

Speaking of the honour, Rankin said; "When I opened the letter with the offer from the Lord Provost, I didn't even know we had Deputy Lieutenants.

"It’s a great honour to have been offered the role. I was a bit worried when I received a text message from a friend saying I would have to wear a cockade!

Asked if he would be comfortable in the presence of royalty, Rankin continued: "I have met Prince Charles before, as well as Princess Anne and Prince Phillip, but never the Queen. That will be excellent."

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Glasgow Art Fair Hailed a Success

The biggest commercial art event to hit Glasgow took place last week. The 12th annual Glasgow Art Fair opened its doors to the public on Thursday 19th April, showcasing more than 1000 artists from all over the world and smashing all previous sales records into the bargain.

Last year 16,000 visitors packed into a large white tent on George Square, and art lovers spent more than £1million - buying all kinds of art from small £50 works by new graduates to £30,000 pieces by some of the biggest names.

This year 18,000 buyers flocked to view new exhibitors alongside established artists over the four-day event, with the amount of art purchased smashing the £1.1m mark.

Among this year's highlights were a show by Glasgow gallery owner Victoria Cassidy, and the chance to buy work by internationally acclaimed artist David Mach. The celebrity art auction fetched over £4000 in aid of the Marie Curie Big Build Appeal to create a new hospice for the City.

Lord Provost Liz Cameron commented: "The Art Fair has been an essential part of Glasgow's thriving cultural life for more than a decade.

"Once more the Art Fair has brought a wide range of galleries to the city presenting a fantastic selection of contemporary art for sale to buyers of every budget.

"I'm delighted to be able to say it is the biggest of its kind in the UK outside London."

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