The comments I’ve been hearing about “Clod, Pebble” (and thank you for them) have focused so far on the father’s dilemma, both with his ex-wife and daughter and in that crappy bookstore line, confronting the real and the fake.

But there’s another dilemma, enacted on the other side of that table, the never-ending battle between Art and Commerce, and we all know who wins that one, right, at least in the short term? Dragondreams: War! crushes all before it, and poor Mr. Dunbar goes home to a microwaved pizza. Or that’s how the story usually plays out.

That battle interests me a lot, not only in fiction but in my daily life, since what I do for a living is write.  And since the times they really are a-changin’ – not only in publishing but for all us (somewhat queasily-designated) content creators, all across the board – does that make it harder or easier for writers to write books, when the definition of “book” itself is up for grabs?  How about artists?  Or musicians? Who’s going to pay us to do what we do, so we can do it and still keep the lights on? And who, or what, are we creating this stuff for, anyway?  The people who like it?  The idea of art? Ourselves? Itself?

Or, as Amanda Palmer puts it in her interview on NPR’s On the Media: “If you’re a teenager with a dream of being a rock star, maybe you’ll really think about why. Were you doing this to be rich and famous or are you doing this because you really love music and you want to connect with people, and you’ll do it even if it just means you make a living wage? If that’s true, I’m – you know, I’m a fan of the new system.”

Actually, me too. Because the answer is, make up your own answers to these questions, then act accordingly.  The answer is, support the stuff you love to listen to, to read, to wear, to stare at on your walls or in a browser, put your money where your love is, because Shakespeare got to get paid, son. The answer is a Swiss army knife, with some tools we may not have seen before, or know how to use, but that’s why life is fun. The answer is I better get to work, now, I have a book to finish.

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