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Bartleby the Scrivener vegan27
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camping & writing
Sarah and I attended the Waterfront Film Festival last weekend in South Haven, on Lake Michigan. It was a lot of fun and a cool place to visit, and the films were mostly really good. The best ones were Chu and Blossom, Copenhagen, and the short film Recursion. It was kind of a bummer at first because the first three screenings we attended--the first three!--each contained a film in which a person was hanging from a rope around their neck. Ironically, the fourth screening (Creepy Shorts) contained no hangings.

Other than that, it was fun. Well, also the camping. Sarah's tradition was to attend this festival with her best friend and camp nearby. My opinion of and reaction to camping are 100% predictable, so there is no need to go into detail. The first night was the coldest and most uncomfortable and I ended up just leaving the tent and showering at 5:40am because I couldn't sleep. Sarah kept me going by continually throwing good food and vegan s'mores at me. The novelty of cooking over a campfire was one of the enjoyable aspects of camping. Every morning Sarah cooked a savory potato/tofu hash and percolated coffee. The least enjoyable part of camping was probably the last evening, when we happened to be near what was presumably a reunion of the Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood of Shrill Shrieking Harpies.

But *aside* from that, it was an overwhelmingly great vacation. On the last night we watched the sun set behind Lake Michigan on the beach by our campsite, the first time I have ever seen a sunset over water.

* * * * *

When we returned, I found that I had received contracts to be signed from the publisher who had contacted me about a Corktown book. Becky (who is a lawyer) very generously offered to look it over for me, and I'm glad she did. Among the many issues:

  • A vaguely-worded provision prohibits me from publishing, or making available in any form, earlier versions of anything similar to the book, which could potentially include my blog.
  • The publisher has the first right of refusal to publish any future work of mine at any price they want to.
  • If the publisher is sued because of something in my book--e.g., a copyright issue with a photo, even if I am in the right and have the right to publish that photo, I am responsible to pay attorney fees and court costs even if the case is dismissed, and I have no input regarding settlements, choice of attorneys, etc.
  • Even though I requested a budget for reproducing photos, the contract says that I am solely responsible for paying all reproduction fees and securing the rights to all images.

If I am going to spend a year of my life writing a history of Corktown, I want it to be the definitive history and contain as many old photos as possible--almost all of which are held by the Burton Historical Collection. And I don't want to be bankrupted by lawsuits and lose control over if, when, and how I write about the neighborhood's history ever again.