Op-Ed: The Indie Hypocrisy

Yup, an opinion piece. Kind of an odd one, too. But why not? After all, I finished the first draft of Jungle yesterday. I’m in a good mood. It’s been a while since the last one. And this topic has been on my mind for a good week or so; seems as good a time as any to bring it up.

Last week I had an interesting encounter. I was on a forum devoted to discussing video games (bear with me, this gets back to books fairly quickly) when something unexpected happened. In a thread discussing indie games and how great they were (games that are built and published without the oversight of a game publisher, just as indie books are written and published without the oversight of a book publisher), a group of posters started going off against indie books.

It was the usual argument. How could any book be good if it hadn’t been “approved” by some publisher. Publishers “only approved” good stories so anyone who wasn’t publishing through them was clearly not good enough to bother looking at. Publishers had all the editors, so an indie book would be rife with errors. You know, the usual junk that gets spouted off.

But what really made this whole chain jarring was the fact that this was in a thread devoted to discussing how great indie games were, games that did the exact same thing indie authors did—eschew a publisher in favor of their own efforts to bring a game to the world. So what it had boiled down to was “Indie games are great, indie books are horrible” and the same reasons for one being great were being espoused as reasons for the other being terrible.

This got me thinking about indie books and indie markets in general. It’s not hard to find someone slamming indie books on the internet. In fact, it’s just about the standard reaction. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that, at least from what I’ve seen, indie books are the only place that this happens. Everywhere else, indie is embraced by the majority.

And that doesn’t add up.

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Music to Write to – Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst

So my music collection consists of about 500 albums. Not pirated. No joke. I own a lot of music, most of it instrumental. Why? Well, I’m an author, and I need to listen to something while I work. Rather than burn out an album or two, I find its better to have a huge variety. A couple of readers have asked me about favorites from my collection, and the topic has been the subject of a BaBW post once before.

Anyway, this post is sort of in the vein of that one, except now I’m throwing out a suggestion.

Earlier today, on a whim, I picked up a new soundtrack. Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, to be specific. I loved the soundtrack to the first Mirror’s Edge. Solar Fields did a fantastic job putting together an album that you could just lose yourself in, something that was perfect for just throwing on while you worked. Busy and pumping without ever losing its smooth, ambient quality, the first Mirror’s Edge soundtrack was a delight, and I still enjoy listening to it.

Today I thought I’d check out the sequel: Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst. So I loaded it up on the Amazon Music Store and took a quick look. Five-star reviews, still the same artist, 32 songs … Good, good, good …

Then I saw the album length: Five hours, twelve minutes.

I kid you not. I looked back up at the tracks to make sure it wasn’t mistaken. It wasn’t. Some of these tracks are almost twenty-five minutes long. And they’re not just playing the same tune for that whole length, either. No, these are electric suites that smoothly flow from one melody to another.

For five hours.

This soundtrack costs $9.49.

I have no idea how this one slipped into this price category. Catalyst is published by EA, who before have had the wonderful (sarcasm) habit of taking a soundtrack and splitting it into at least three or four overpriced albums with a couple of songs apiece. I have no idea who was responsible to taking what by their previous standard was about twenty albums worth of content and selling it for the price of one.

But I bought it, and it’s fantastic.

And now I draw your attention to it. If you’ve heard Mirror’s Edge before and enjoyed it, definitely consider picking this one up. It’s a steal, and I almost don’t expect it to stay at such a low price.

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If you’re a fan of Solar Fields, consider picking this one up. Maybe listen to it while you read a book.

Being a Better Writer: Opening Pandora’s Music Box

This is a post I didn’t actually think I’d ever write.

Hyperbole? Not really, actually. As you may have gathered from the title, today I’m going to be talking about music, which is a common enough topic that I’ve been asked about by many a young writer. They want to know if someone can listen to music while writing, what I listen to, etc.

And for the longest time, I’ve just said “Yes” and left it at that. I listen to music when I write, you can too.

But the other day, as I was working while listening to some new music, I started thinking about how many had asked me this question, and the nature of my response. And I started to wonder if there perhaps wasn’t more to say than a simple affirmation that I did. Because, while true that I do listen to music while I write—constantly, in fact—there’s a bit more to it than simply turning on the radio and diving right into whatever I’m working on. Because if it were that simple for everyone … well, the question wouldn’t be coming up, would it? Would be writers would simply turn something on and go, no need to ask anyone else at all.

So today, I’m going to talk a little bit more about listening to music while writing. Because the more I thought about it, the more I realized that over the years I’ve developed a code of rules that determine quite a bit of my writing process. Or perhaps “guidelines” is a better phrase. Irregardless, the point is, I just don’t sit down and hit “play” before I start working. Not normally. There are restrictions I follow, little self-learned requirements I keep to. And now, I’m going to share them with you.

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