Five Questions with Author Betsy Robinson

Author Betsy Robinson

This week we would like you to meet Author Betsy Robinson.

1. What was the inspiration behind becoming an author? What do you enjoy most about the creative process?

I have always loved reading books and I’ve learned by osmosis. I feel most alive when I write. As a child, when I wrote I realized I was transported to a state where nothing could possibly be wrong —even if I was writing to purge all that pained me. That has never changed. I still feel the same joy and freedom at age 67. And when a story chooses me, nowadays it seems to come out as a novel or a journalism piece (to make money) or a blog.

2. Can you take us through your process? How long does it take? Does everything you produce make money?

Sometimes I need to make money and I’ll ponder what I might sell in the form of a blog or journalism, and sometimes I sell it. I’m pretty fast with journalism; you don’t have to invent the world. You just research and write it up. Fiction takes as long as it takes. A first draft can come in a few months or it can take years. And then there can be years of revisiting it and doing many revisions (which I tend to do quickly once I begin them).

3. What do you think is the biggest misconception about your line of work?

That anybody should write. That the world needs your writing. That everybody has a book in them. B.S. You should write if you need to write and do it for the joy of it. Something may come of it, or not; the world is saturated with stuff to read and is not waiting for more. And writing a book takes enormous endurance —physical and mental. And certainly everybody is not made with the capacity to endure and focus in the way required to produce a book.

4. When did you first become aware of copyright and why?

In the early 1970s when I was writing short stories and plays. I think the first thing I had copyrighted was my first novel, Plan Z by Leslie Kove, published by Mid-List Press in 2001. I had a copyright number ÛÓinstant proof to anybody of my ownership.

5. What do you do when you encounter someone stealing something you’ve invested your intellect, time, and money into?

I wrote a one-act play called Darleen Dances whose opening monologue was published in a best-selling actor’s monologue book, and the piece has become a favorite of young actors. It is clearly protected by copyright. I sell the whole play on my website and there is a bold-faced copyright notice saying that the material can be used for audition and class purposes only, and any other presentation requires my permission. Yet for years people filmed it without permission and put it on YouTube, used it in shows that were on the radio or even maybe on TV (I saw that some beauty pageant winner had used it). It irks me! I’ve gotten it taken down from YouTube ÛÓand there the copyright certificate number means instant success for me; they ask for it to prove infringement. Most of the performances are so awful I can’t watch them, and I don’t want that representing what I wrote to potential play buyers. I have no way of knowing if I’ve lost sales from the illicit use, but I believe that I have.

Betsy Robinson

New York, New York

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