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To prepare for this blog post, I read a United States Supreme Court opinion.

That’s how much I love you.

Specifically, I read Kirtsaeng v. Wiley, a decision handed down by the Supreme Court March 19, 2013. It has to do with copyright law and the “first sale” doctrine  in federal law. The doctrine says that if you legally possess a copyrighted work, you are allowed, without getting the okay of the copyright owner, to “sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy or phonorecord.” In Kirtsaeng, the Court extended that doctrine to copyrighted works lawfully made abroad.


I read the Court’s opinion and was all set to write a nice little blog post about the ever-changing publishing landscape and what the ruling might mean for all of us who do this thing.

But then, as I started to type, I was struck by a crippling fatigue. I slumped to the floor, spilling the coffee (sigh) and banging my head repeatedly on the way down. I still have the bruises. I also can’t remember my kids’ names. For now, they’re just “Boy Kid” and “Girl Kid”. They’ll just have to deal with it.

Here’s the thing: I work really hard on the writing part of being a writer. I don’t want to read Supreme Court opinions. I want to make stuff up and giggle while I commit it to paper or a Word file.

But here’s the thing about the thing: writers, we’re alone out here. Yeah, there are still agents and publishers and what not. Look hard. There’s one over there behind the big rock. Shh! You’ll scare her!

They want to help, but they have to watch their own backs too, lest Amazon devour them and poop out little 99 cent used e-books.  (You think I’m kidding? Amazon really wants to do this. Er…the part about selling used e-books, not the pooping part.) Or they have to worry about their company merging with some other company to become, uh, Cyborg & Sons or something, and putting them out on the street.

If writers want to be relatively safe in the creative-eat-creative world we write in today, we can’t keep our heads buried in the iPad. We gotta look up once in a while, if only to duck shrapnel from the latest collision of e-book publisher and vanity press, both of which are flying down publishing-row in a mad dash to curry our favor.

I don’t want to spend time reading Writers Beware! blogs , but I don’t want to be scammed by greedy “publishers”. I don t want to think about marketing, but if I want to sell books, I better. I don’t like the weird duality of shopping at Amazon for great deals while at the same time worrying what their business practices are doing to my industry. I don’t like mourning the death of book & mortar bookstores like casualties of war, but I do.

And sometimes I read Supreme Court opinions.

I do all of these things because this is the life I’ve chosen. And, occasionally, late at night, I find a few minutes of writing time for actual writing. Assuming I don’t fall asleep at the keyboard.

Because that’s what it means to be a writer today.


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