Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Why do you give your books away for free, Rik?

Let's talk about gardens.

I live in Hackney. Not the richest part of the capital. Yet, when I walk around Hackney, I often come across stunning examples of gardening. Sometimes an immaculate display fronting a council flat; sometimes a perfectly planned cascade of shape and colour from a window ledge.

Why do people do this gardening stuff?

Maybe they do it to increase the value of their home? Or perhaps they intend to sell the parts of their garden - professional gardeners in the making?

No. This is Hackney.

I ask people, sometimes: why do you do it? Some say they get a huge amount of pleasure from the act of gardening. Others take great pride from the results of their toil: a day is often made complete when a passer-by takes the time to congratulate the gardener on their efforts.

The fact is, gardens are part of our local environment. Through the efforts of individuals - for whatever reason - they add to the pleasures of Hackney.

And not a single gardener expects to be paid for their efforts.

As go gardens, so go books.

Literature is a part of our social, emotional environment. But at first glance it seems to be a very different sort of environment. Here, in the world of the imagination, great panoramas are locked behind cash chains. Entrance to view these image-driving monuments is exclusive, gated.

True, we have our bookish parks and verges, where public domain works by the graceful dead can be browsed for free pleasure. But to encounter anything less than 70 years old transactions must be entered into. Creators - and those who enable those creators - must have their wage.

It is an unhealthy environment. Especially now that the libraries are emptying their bookshelves for more immediate pleasures - assuming they still stand, of course.

This is why I give my books away. For free. I am not a professional writer, nor am I a 'mere' hobbyist. I am a gardener of words, and I want to make our collective, social environment a better, richer place. I enjoy the labour of creating stories and poems. I take pride in the finished products - verse chapbooks, a short story collection. Even my one-and-a-half novels (I'll finish writing book two next year. Promise!)

And, yes, if a stranger throws me a compliment for all my hard work, I find myself smiling for the rest of the day.

Such payments are worth far more than 'mere' wages!

1 comment:

  1. We all get our 'wages' one way or the other. As well, the purchaser will value the work in their own way. As long as there's a smile, it's all worth while. Congrats on your hard work!