Sunday, December 31, 2006

In memoriam, Part III

Don Murray died this past Saturday.

In addition to being a world-class writer, he was a class human being, too. I can say that with certainty not only because of the way his students talk about him, but also because of the way he treated me way back before I was a professional writer - while I was a techie peon working the computer Help Desk at the University of New Hampshire. He was a professor emeritus who needed help setting up his email. At a job where the professors are not the nicest people in the world to assist, he was one of the nicest people I'd ever encountered - not just polite, but warm, even friendly.

I was tempted to say that the writing world has lost something special, but the truth is, we haven't "lost" anyone so much as we've been challenged - to learn and practice not only writing, but also humility: Murray-style.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Decisions, decisions

I have an opportunity to blog professionally for the launch website of a large, well-known corporation. They want me to sign a nondisclosure agreement, so I'm not comfortable naming names, but suffice to say it does sound interesting. My only hesitation: they want to buy all rights.

Never sell all rights is one of the cardinal rules of writing professionally. It ranks right up there with Money always flows to the writer, a.k.a. Never pay to get published. That's because the corporation can profit indefinitely from reprints, and the writer will never see a penny beyond what she was initially paid.

My guess is that because it's a large corporation, the compensation will be decent. Probably not enough to cover those potential future profits, but what I don't know can't hurt me, right? The National Writers Union would hiss and spit and probably ban me for life if I did choose to take this job - it's a matter of principle, after all - but one of the reasons I didn't renew my membership is that I didn't see them addressing the question of what to do when you are a parent working from home who needs an additional source of income in the coming year. Principles at that point become varying shades of gray.

What I'll probably end up doing is signing the nondisclosure agreement and then seeing what they have to say about compensation. Then would come a discussion with the husband, who, ironically, is reading a book about ethical literacy and how to make those funky "right vs. right" decisions in life. We'll see what comes of it all!