Inspired | March 2019

Every month, I share the articles and sites that I found most interesting. Here’s what caught my attention in March.

“But I’m not a lawyer. I’m an agent.” by David Simon (This is the best explanation I’ve seen of the current conflict between the WGA and the agencies. It’s a must-read for anyone who cares about screenwriting, or about television and movies in general.)

Again, the problem with packaging is not merely that clients are poorly repped in negotiations with other clients. No, it’s bigger than that. The problem is that the agency incentive to package shows and provide larger payments to themselves has obliterated any serious thought about aggressively negotiating on behalf of any writer, or actor, or director, large or small.

On the Cult of Originality: What Byzantine Literary Culture Can Tell Us About Fanfiction by Arkady Martine

Transformative works are exclusively created by people who know and love the original source text, and its audience is also this group—essentially, transformative works are by fans and for fans, the way that Byzantine compilation literature was by ‘fans’ of classical literature and for ‘fans’ of classical literature. In great part, transformative work has also been created by groups which, unlike the Byzantine literati of Constantinople, are not part of the dominant or centered population.

What If You Can’t Afford “A Room of One’s Own”? by Sandra Newman: “Before I go on, I feel I have to make it clear that this essay is not about “grit” — or any other imaginary virtue poor people need before they’re allowed to make art.”

On what it takes to sustain a creative life financially by Sarah Schulweis: “The truth is that while there are multiple ways to support yourself as a creative person trying to live and work, none are flawless.”

How to Promote Yourself Online When You’re a Total Introvert by Sabrina Hall: “While I still shy away from receiving too much attention, I know that sharing my perspective and narrative is important and might inspire someone else to do the same. How do I manage these two ever opposing feelings? Very slowly.”

‘I can get any novel I want in 30 seconds’: can book piracy be stopped? by Katy Guest

Generally, pirates tend to be from better-off socioeconomic groups, and aged between 30 and 60. Many use social media to ask for tips when their regular piracy website is shut down; when I contacted some, those who responded always justified it by claiming they were too poor to buy books – then tell me they read them on their e-readers, smartphones or computer screens – or that their areas lacked libraries, or they found it hard to locate books in the countries where they lived. Some felt embarrassed. Others blamed greedy authors for trying to stop them.

On High Heels and Lotus Feet by Summer Brennan: “It is easy to dismiss the pain of achieving beauties past as grotesque or unnecessary once we no longer find them beautiful; less so when they still captivate us.”

• The New York Public Library has a searchable database of Historical Restaurant Menus from the 1840s to the present. I’m obsessed.

• I’m also obsessed with the Fan Magazines Collection at the Media History Digital Library, which includes copies of Photoplay from 1914 through 1963.

How Removing Asphalt Is Softening Our Cities by Lynn Freehill-Maye: Greening alleys reclaims public space, reconnects urban dwellers to one another, and invites nature deep into cities.

Smart talking: are our devices threatening our privacy? by James Vlahos

No information has emerged to suggest that Google was spying on purpose. Nonetheless, if a company the calibre of Google can make such a blunder, then other companies might easily make similar mistakes as voice interfaces proliferate.

Choosing an Office Chair That Won’t Kill You by Seth Heller: Sitting can be lethal, right? We asked the experts how to stay healthy while doing the one thing that, for the most of us, takes up the majority of the day.

What’s the most interesting thing you saw online this month?