A Tale of Two Kingdoms

Once upon a time two kingdoms fought furiously over a garden, rich with beauty.

Source: A Tale of Two Kingdoms

A Tale of Two Kingdoms

Once upon a time two kingdoms fought furiously over a garden, rich with beauty.

On this land grew the most beautiful flowers, vivid colors seemingly floating from their petals. Artists, displaying their creations while the peasants basked in their message and story, dropping gold pieces into their baskets to show appreciation. Many peasants would visit this garden to escape their mundane lives and soak in the deep blue pond while admiring their surroundings.

Two Kings saw the value of this garden and sought to take it for themselves and their subjects. If one King could seize control over this garden and the artists dwelling within, they could charge peasants pieces of gold to enter. Keeping a margin of this gold for themselves and with the rest of the gold, lure the artists to swear fealty.

King Conglomerate approached the artists in the garden and said, “We are in a better position to service the peasants when they enter. We will ask for less gold thus attracting more peasants paying to enter. With so much gold, our kingdom will be far more luxurious and we will pay the artists more gold as well.”

The artists were tempted by this King. Truly, more gold and a large kingdom would bring more peasants to enjoy their art. The artists gladly swore fealty.

King Conglomerate began to charge the peasants as they entered the garden. Many peasants questioned this and asked why they must pay to enter. King Conglomerate advised they no longer have to pay the artists as the king now pays them a royalty to display their art. Some peasants willingly accepted, paying gold and entering the garden.

Some peasants felt this unfair to their favorite artists. “Why should we pay you, King Conglomerate? We owe you no fealty.” They gathered to confer and find a way to challenge King Conglomerate.

They sought another King for advice. King Independent, or ‘Indie’ as he is known, heard the peasants. King Independent thought to himself, “So, King Conglomerate has taken control of the garden. I shall challenge him to a battle. I too have interest in this garden’s gold.” Stroking his long beard, he began to scheme.

King Indie paid his gold piece to enter the garden. He saw the artists painting and writing, some read aloud to a group of peasants. He approached an artist whose peasant gathering seemed the largest. “Your painting is beautiful but why are your colors less vivid than I remember?”

“My lord, King Conglomerate has taken our baskets. I thought I would make more gold by swearing fealty to this King. But alas, I have to share my gold with the King and I can no longer buy the most quality paints.”

This angered King Indie. This popular artist should not be making the same pittance as the other, less popular artists. He decided he must fight King Conglomerate for the most popular artists. They should not have their gold taken from them and now the colors are no longer bright. In truth, as King Indie looked around him, he saw the garden was no longer as vivid and thriving as before.

King Indie gathered his loyal subjects including the artist from the garden. “Today I shall declare war on King Conglomerate. We will battle him here in the garden.”

King Indie’s army still being small, he recruited peasants. King Indie and his subjects began to tell the peasants of King Conglomerate’s evil scheme to take gold from the most popular artists. King Indie accused King Conglomerate of lying to the peasants when he said all would benefit from the gold being made by the King. Many peasants noticed the garden in decline and their favorite artists making less gold, thus less beauty and chose to fight with King Indie’s army.

In the garden the battle raged. Many peasants could see how this battle destroyed their beautiful garden of retreat and the artists no longer displayed their beauty to give them  relief. They only wanted gold.

King Indie laid a siege around the garden, not allowing his subjects to display their art or loyal peasants to pay their gold to enter. King Indie told them that King Conglomerate ruined the garden and his subjects should have nothing to do with peasants or other artists wanting to enter the garden. King Indie declared that he could better serve the peasants and the artists. Therefore, none of his loyal subjects should entertain the idea of entering the garden even to see the artists who have not sworn fealty to either King.

Thus, a horrible divide occurred in the artist community. Soon, they fought among themselves, forming groups swearing a fealty to one or the other King. The divide became a crevice as more and more artists were forced to swear fealty to a King in order to earn  gold pieces.

The crevice widened into a deep chasm. On either side were loyal peasants and artists swearing fealty to King Conglomerate or King Indie.

This battle rages madly to this day. Artists swearing fealty to whichever King will give them more gold pieces.

While many of the peasants lamented the loss of their garden, they couldn’t agree about which King was responsible and which King to swear fealty. Some peasants completely abandoned the garden to follow their favorite artists. They saw no hope for the lost garden so they chose to follow their favorite artists and swear fealty to the artist’s King.

For many peasants, this war disheartened them. The garden, still controlled by both Kings, is no longer the beautiful, peaceful place it once had been.

The disheartened peasants chose to leave the garden entirely. They would build their own garden and no longer allow fealty to either King. This garden would be for the artists to once again create their beauty. To give the peasants the escape they seek and artists can display a basket where the peasants can choose to give them gold. No King to make demands and no artists to service only the peasants loyal to either King.

This beautiful garden is forming again with peasants and artists refusing to swear fealty to either King. As more artists enter this garden, more peasants are drawn to the pleasure and escape this garden offered before the war.

The World of ‘Free’lance

Semantics can be tricky. The meaning of a word as defined by one, may be different to someone else.

I believe this is true of the word freelance.

To me, freelance is an employment path. The prefix being the operative term – freedom. Working freelance, I can work the hours I choose and be as creative as I wish with my company. Choosing freelance employment, I am looking to escape the monotony of working for a hive-mind corporation. This is more difficult for artists than others, believe it or not.

The downside of freelance employment – the sacrifice of certain benefits. Primarily, an hourly wage. That is what I believe, but I’m learning that for some freelance services, the word freelance means one is free yet still expecting to collect the same hourly wage. This seems like an oxymoron to me and certainly doesn’t fit into the freelance model as I understand it.

Cactus Moon Publications started out as Kal-Ba Publishing. An author and I decided to form a company modeled after a new capitalist idea. Collaboration vs Dictation. Certainly, our idea was risky. No collaborative model has been able to withstand the tidal wave of the current capitalist philosophy. Our idea sprang from the three-sided triangle or pyramid. All sides are equal, if not, the shape is no longer equal and no longer a pyramid. Our sole income would be made through our hard work and fair play with others.

Shortly after Kal-Ba was established, I lost my partner. In a very competitive and suspicious world, I sat on a life preserver with two authors; wondering whether I should sink or swim. If I chose to swim, it would be very difficult and risky. If I chose to jump, the authors will be let down and my reputation damaged.

Though a traumatic experience, I have learned much. I am a survivor above all else so I chose to swim. In this process, I’ve learned many lessons. One – freelance services are not what they seem and as an author please shop around.

My first experience with the current freelance model came when I sat in negotiation with an illustrator. My authors were debut and I, a brand new publisher with a maverick model. During the negotiations, the illustrator remarked, “I’m taking quite a cut in pay for this. Thirty dollars an hour is pretty low.”

Wait. An hourly wage? I didn’t know this was included. I want to pay for illustrations, not the hours it takes to create. And, who decides the hourly wage? Out of curiosity and frankly, shock, I asked what he was used to being paid. His response was equally stunning. “When I worked for the last company, I made fifty an hour.” Again, freelance. Are you working for that company now? And what makes you believe as a freelance illustrator you should be guaranteed the income you received when working for a large company? Maybe I am naïve, but I believe this expectation is crazier than starting a grassroots company, dwarfed by hundreds of others.

Authors are not paid by the hour. If they were, only the wealthy could afford to read their books. Truth. I guess this doesn’t occur to most as they read a delicious story or a very inspiring self-help. Including freelance illustrators and editors.

A good novel requires collaboration. Creativity is made more beautiful when others agree to offer their special talent. Nothing is free and no one should expect something for nothing. Authors should not expect services for free and freelancers should not expect the same hourly wage they received while working for The Man. I believe this and I am not ashamed or even worried it will affect my reputation.

CMP works with amazing illustrators, editors, and other collaborators all working for the same goal. Promotion and repeat clients. This is the Spirit of our company and as such, we will not compromise this model for anyone.

Listed on the bottom of our website is a tab for Collaborators. A list of collaborators who are working freelance for others as well. This is CMP’s idea of giving back. This is collaboration not dictation. A model where everyone shares to enhance the art of another.

Feel free to peruse our collaborators and connect for your services. I don’t put just anyone’s name on that list.