Art for Art’s Sake

I am releasing my second book this week. The title is “Letter Openers: More Essays about Life and Love”. (My first book, released in 2017, was “Can Openers: Essays About Life and Love”). I should share a few thoughts with you about what it is like to release a book. The first thing I should note is that I donated all of the proceeds from the first book to charity. I’ll donate the proceeds through the end of 2019 to Broad Street Ministry, and organization that serves the homeless and at-risk population of Philadelphia. They treat the people that they serve with dignity and respect. I gather that there aren’t too many people who donate the proceeds from their art to charity. I am not aware of any artists that do so. One of the reasons that I do it is that I hope that some good comes from the money that I donate. The other reason is a little bit more complicated. That reason is that I don’t care whether I make money from writing. At least not today. In fact, I think that making a lot of money would spoil this for me.

I love to write. I love to write when I want to write. I become inspired about something, and then I start writing, and I write as long as I want to write, and then I publish it. I don’t write because I am making money doing it, or because someone else is telling me to do it. I do it because this is a passion. I love to do it. I love to do it when I want, how I want, and why I want. I don’t answer to anyone else about it. It is mine, and mine alone. —– A friend of a friend wrote a sports book a few years ago. For his anonymity, I won’t disclose the author. His book won multiple awards. The author took a year off from his newspaper job, and did his best to support the sales of the book. He spent a full year doing this, and the book company he was working with advertised and promoted it. With all of that, the book sold less than 20,000 copies. The author made less than $40,000 for more than a years work. —–

Most books don’t sell very well. If you don’t believe me, I will ask you to tell me how many full-time authors you know. How many authors do you know who make a living writing and selling books? That’s what I thought. For every JK Rowling or Stephen King, there are tens of thousands of authors who write, but don’t sell enough to make a living. I know only one artist who works full-time at his craft. He barely ekes out a living doing what he does. —–

Not too long ago, I saw a cartoon. A man was preparing to do some volunteer work. He was about to step out into a pouring rain storm. The caption under the cartoon was “you couldn’t pay me enough to do this…..but I am glad to do it for free!” That is how I feel about writing. I am glad to do it for free. Maybe someday I will change my mind about this, but for today, I love to write when, how and why I choose. I hope you enjoy my writing as much as I do.

With love, Hal

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