Friday, March 26, 2010

I Ran Out Of Gas Will You . . . ?

The other day I stopped to get gas. It was about 9:00 at night. And while I’m standing beside my van sort of spacing out and wondering if I want to drive a couple of miles for a cup of tea and a scone for my drive home, this guy walks up to me. He’s got long hair brushed back into a pony tail and dressed in a nice long sleeve, button up blue shirt and jeans.

I’m not sure what I thought he was going to ask me or tell me, but it wasn’t what actually happened. He holds up a CD and tells me he’s a musician, and that he’s run out of gas and if I buy his CD he’ll have money to get home.

I think I stared at him too long while I tried to process this. I’ve had many people use that “I ran out gas” line and honestly, I never believe it, but sometimes I’ll offer a dollar or some change. Never when I’m with my kids, because I’m always paranoid of the many scenarios that can happen, but when it’s just me and I feel safe, I’ll help them out.

But not only did I not believe this guy with the CD, but I wondered if he was a real musician. If he was, was he really trying to sell his music at a gas station with an “I ran out of gas” line? I wondered if as an author I would do that. Well, no I didn’t wonder – I knew I wouldn’t. But I have attended many book shows, conventions, seminars, Etc. where I sit behind my booth and talk to attendees about my books in hopes that they will buy a copy. My role at these booths is no longer that of an artist, but a sales person, which is unfortunate. Like all other booths that are selling hats or clothes or jewelry or a hot dog and a coke, I have a product to sell.

I’ve always understood that the book business IS a business, and I actually have fun attending these events, but I often think that it’s too bad that an artist, whether writer, painter, or musician, has to be involved in this part of the business. I don’t think most of us are very good at it.

I left the gas station. I did not buy his CD, though I thought about him a few times this week and wondered if there was really music on that CD, and sort of wished I had. I didn’t buy it, because it was sort of creepy for him to approach someone at a gas station at night. No matter how difficult it is to sell our art, I still think we need to treat it like art. We might be forced to become sales people at times, but I think we have to respect our work enough NOT to sell it anywhere.


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