Hey everybody! Flobo here and today I want to go back to school!
Actually no. I did the school thing for literally twenty years straight. I. AM. DONE.
That’s right. Through my years of grade school, college, and eventually grad/film school, I can tell you that education is important but it is a killer. As a struggling artist I can also tell you that school is an investment that you may not see the returns on for years after you jailbreak, either. This is also the reason I’ve never done any “Big Brother” type speeches to high school kids. Personally, I can tell you it is getting harder to sell them on something that is going to leave them multiple thousands of dollars in debt.
But I digress.
No matter what school you end up going to, if you’re like me, you’ve gotten something in the mail that asks/requests/begs you to donate back to the college. The conventional wisdom is this: Since the school has nourished your academic and/or creative spirit, it is your responsibility to ensure the school in question is able to to that for future generations.
Cynical people like myself don’t see it that way. I remember when I graduated from college (the first time) like it was yesterday. Sitting in a stuffy gymnasium on a humid morning in April while wearing my black graduation robe, I wanted to do nothing but get out of there and run to the nearest ice cream shop. By the time the alumni association representative got on stage and asked for their first donation (because we were now alums you see) there were enough audible titters and groans from the crowd to throw the poor lady off her speech. The thought process being, “Hey. We just got out. A lot of us are thousands in debt, and now you want MORE money?”
I felt the same way too. That is, until I went to graduate school. Man, talk about an impersonal educational experience. In fact, I respected what my undergraduate school had done for me only after I went to a school that charged twice as much and gave me half of the service. You know, I should do a blog on my grad/film school one day. Anyway, so when I get a “please donate” card from my undergrad, I felt compelled to give back to the institution of higher learning that shaped me into who I am today.
I’m just too poor to donate.
So you may not know this, but I am part of a eBook reviewing site. Essentially I download press copies of eBooks, I read them and review them. I don’t get paid, but on the flip side I get to read eBooks from other independent authors for free. Well, why do I do this? For one (and sticking with the school analogy) I feel as if I’m “giving back”. I am a writer with my books available online, but if I don’t read others (no matter the circumstance) how can I expect people to read “The Indelible Silverstreek” or “Mass Transit” ? Secondly, there’s a chance to see trends in writing styles. A generation ago, the average novel was dense; written in such a way that you had to fight the book to have any sort of comprehension. These days? Accessibility is the key. I can almost guarantee you that the “Twilight” books wouldn’t have been published a generation ago. This also helps with spotting (and avoiding) trends. If you’re over vampires maybe you can write about samurai. If you think wizards are still big, maybe you can throw your hat into the arena.
What I am saying is, even though you are a writer (or screenwriter,musician, artist, poet, etc), it is only fair to “give back”. Maybe for noble reasons or maybe just to get those ever elusive “karma points”, it’s okay to both create and consume your given craft.