Seeking Publisher Permissions, Part II

copyrightBack in early February, I wrote about my experience with seeking out permission from publishers to use various lines of poetry and lyrics in my novel, Truest.

By now, I’ve heard back from all the licensing departments, and I wanted to give you the final results:

One line of an E.E. Cummings poem: free. 

Two lines of a Billy Collins poem: $290 for the first run of 10,000 copies of Truest, after which I’ll need to reapply. I agreed.

One entire E.E. Cummings poem: $560. I eagerly agreed, as several scenes hinge on this poem.

Two lines of lyrics from a Pink Floyd song: $1000 for five years, after which I’d need to reapply. I declined. These lyrics were going to be the novel’s epigraph, and while they’re beautiful and fit the novel perfectly, I thought $1000 was too much to pay for two lines that don’t appear in the actual manuscript.

All told, I paid $850 for permission to use what I wanted in my novel. In a perfect world, I’d have also used a line from C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength and the refrain from Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, but with frazzled nerves and empty pockets, I took them out without changing the story.

In the end, my advice is to use material from the public domain or else make it up yourself. I’m doing both in Mill City Heroes.

P.S. I read a YA book recently that used quotes like they were breadcrumbs. While I read, all I kept thinking was $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. This author’s eyes have been opened. 🙂

permission to NOT write

Last week I had coffee with Stacey, a fresh college grad and newlywed.  She has a degree in English from my alma mater, and we talked about how she hasn’t had any energy to write lately.  Faced with student loans for an English degree, she feels like she should be writing, but she is just so completely burnt out from her senior project.

I told her the same thing happened to me after college.  I was so exhausted in pretty much every possible way that I didn’t write for three years, I told her.  But I didn’t waste my time either: I read like crazy, tons and tons of great literature, which was essentially like planting seeds into the field of my mind.  I began to harvest years later.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with this.

It is still productive to the writing life to take a break from writing.

Quick clarification: I do believe that– in an appropriate season– it is important to force oneself to write through issues.  This is different than being in a season of rest.  I am in a harvesting season right now, and so I sometimes force myself to write, even when I don’t necessarily feel inspired.

It is the difference between the days of rest/no exertion after an injury and the days of rehab that follow.

I have never regretted my three-year hiatus from writing after college graduation.  It allowed me time to read like a maniac, immerse myself in fantastic literature, build up life experiences, and mature before I later dove into novel writing.

What are your thoughts on this?