Thursday, February 02, 2006

I Feel the Bite

There are insufficient quantities of coffee mate so I had to mix it with 2% milk. It is a harbinger for the day. There are (counting today) 12 days left to the BMAC. Today I have got to come up with a piece list and put together the completely unrealistic firing schedule for it (too many pieces + too few days = totally unrealistic). I also have to finish the postcard and have it printed somewhere, choose the pictures I will have blown up to hang on my stark white walls and get them to the large format reproduction place. Then there are samples to fire and fedex to a client, glass to unpack, palpitations to have...

I got the contract edits back from the lawyer yesterday. They make me anxious. Instead of feeling incredibly honored and excited about being chosen to write this book I start feeling like the publisher is a greedy Ebeneezer chortling madly, claws extended to rip out the heart and soul of my effort and creativity and sell it for parts on the black literary market...

Dave thinks I am insane. He gently reminds me that I am not Stephen King or J. K. Rowling and thus will not get control over the edits and choices the publisher makes on the way to getting the book out the door. I am depressed. I would be much happier not having to think about whether someone is trying to gouge me for every nickel, dime and right. I would rather continue to be a PollyAnna--but then I hark back to having a gallery stiff me for work they sold and never paid me for and how burned I was (and still am). I hold grudges for a long time...

And then the coin flips again, it lands tails--for turn tail and run. I think of what a contract really is: basis for legal action. If you have a contract you must enforce it for it to mean anything. Enforcing it means, at best, arbitration, at worst, court and legal fees and more anxiety than a heart can stand without bursting. If you get to the point where you need to worry about the details of a contract, then you have already lost. So why bother? Really shady and unethical people are not going to be stopped by a contract. Do I want to get involved in anything I need a contract for? Maybe I don't even want to do the book. I forget all about Fame and Glory...

The coin jumps back in the air for the last time and it lands heads--for full steam ahead. A contract exists between honest people to explicitly spell out their rights and obligations so there are no surprises on either side. They are not written with the intent to litigate, but to guide and provide answers to questions that may arise in the process. I know that the contract the Publisher gives me will be heavily skewed in their favor and I should not be insulted by this fact. The Publisher does not have my best interests at heart--they are a Corporation (part of Barnes and Noble, to be exact). They have Shareholders, and Employees, and Directors who all come before me. It would be criminally naive to think they are looking out for me when they write the contract (or should). It is my responsibility to weigh the allocation of rights and rewards they propose and to counter-propose a contract more in my favor.

I also must decide what proposed changes in the contract I cannot live without. I need to do that calmly, alone, not in the midst of the negotiation, and not as a response to their counter to my counter. For heaven's sake, I have bought five houses! If I can get through that--dealing not only with someone who does not have my best interests at heart but who is also not a rational human being--then I should be able to sail through this.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Relax "You can do it" Remember that fame comes to those who deserve it and strive for it. You can do it. Believe in yourself and just do it. It will all work out. Your work is beautiful and you know it and everyone else knows it. RELAX and DO it. Good luck at the BMAC.
MONYMAN

Bill Paley said...

It'll all come clear. Just get through the next two weeks!

Barbara Muth said...

What is it about us that we make ambitious lists and schedule work for ourselves that will have us work ourselves to the bone for a deadline that we can't possibly meet? I set unrealistic goals for myself all of the time - goals that would keep the kiln running 24/7 and me collapsed on the floor of my studio in tears of frustration... Except that I learned years ago (when planning my wedding) that timelines and goals can be broken, and that they help me to prepare myself for not accomplishing all I dreamt of as I see day by day in the timeline, the possibility of making goal dissolve....

Bill Paley said...

You can never know too many people. Besides, I don't buy birthday gifts for all of them...