'We could give you permission to quote those lines from that poem by that poet we publish, but only if you published the entire poem and not just that excerpt.'
Thanks, we could do that. How much would you charge us to publish the entire poem by that poet you publish?
'If you wanted to publish that entire poem by that poet we publish we would need to charge you a thousand pounds.'
Thanks, we could not do that.
The 95 is coming together. It’s written. The spellchecker has been activated. The devil is being found in the detail and exorcised. Some entries that made no sense have been replaced by others that do.
It's a book that leans on the insights of others: the clever, the wise, the accidentally profound. Some of them are ancient, some still have acne. Some of them find faith, others can't place it. And drawing on the wisdom of many, includes some who are still alive. Or, to be more precise, still in copyright. We are embarked on the finickety process of seeking permission to cite poems and songs, photos and paragraphs. Some people are delighted to be noticed, others are wary of being ripped off. And when someone prefers not to be quoted, or their representatives on earth suggest an exorbitant fee, we have to recalibrate that entry.
Reassuringly most people get The 95 immediately, witness this note from one well known author: 'Your book sounds quite lovely and brilliantly functional. The online account of it was indeed a heartening prayer in itself . . . yes, you may use my work as requested - no fee required.’
We’d hoped the book might arrive late in this calendar year, segueing effortlessly into the coverage of the 500th anniversary of the original 95 theses. It was in October 1517 that the German friar Martin Luther came up with his own 95 notes, mostly complaining about corruption within institutional religion. He nailed them to a church door, which was the Facebook of the 16th century and started a flame war that changed the way people thought about the biggest questions in life.
But Luther didn't need to seek anyone's permission to quote them. And we're passing on the church door model of publication. Bottom line is that the book's probably going to be rolling off the presses in the first part of next year. But after half a millennium, what’s another few months?
As Luther himself put it, albeit not in the original 95, “If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.”
Thanks to the nearly 300 of you for supporting our pens in making this book - please keep spreading the word.
Martin and Malcolm
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