Monday, November 26, 2007

Yes, Damnit, You Deserve To Get Paid.

I just read a very thoughtful post, a great post, so forgive my rant that’s not directed against that post I swear. But since I seem to have nothing else to say tonight and this is one of my favorite rants, let me say this:

As a writer, you deserve to get paid.

If you dedicate your life to this writing craft, if you achieve a competitive amount of mastery, and if you produce a product that entertains a number of people, you deserve to get paid. You may have to get creative to be paid, you may have to do some gruntwork to get paid, but you deserve to get paid. You may have to twist things a bit to get paid, but them’s the breaks.

I have no idea why, but people get so wishy-washy when it comes to art and money. You know, there is talent and genius in every single career. Donald Trump, if he were a musician, would be Mozart. He would be a genius. He is a talented genius at making deals. He’s turned making deals into an art form. Does anyone say he doesn’t deserve to be paid? Do people say those who want to go into real estate shouldn’t quit their day job? No.

All art is some sort of trade. You practice, you study, you practice, you learn, you practice, and when you achieve the skill needed to make some money, you share what you’ve practiced and you get paid for it.

Sure, there’s inspiration, but let me tell you, there’s inspiration in every single career. You’ve seen movies about inspired teachers, politicians, lawyers, detectives. Art is just another skill, another career. Just because a large number of people derive enjoyment from your art does not mean you work any less. Just because people pay you for what you produce does not make your work any less artistic.

You wouldn’t believe how inspired I can get when we have no money, LOL. I guarantee you it doesn’t lower the quality of my work one bit. I will say that I have spent one or two extra weeks eating potatoes and not eating Thanksgiving dinner because I wanted to make my story better before turning it in, but ... what can you do?

There is no woo-woo-ahhrteeestry. That’s a myth which we may use to our advantage to help us get paid a little more from those who believe in it. That’s a myth we may keep as a trade secret, but it is a myth all the same.

It’s work and you deserve to be paid for that work.

When I was a young musician, I was "socially guided" into certain standards. None of us joined the musician’s union (not sure it does much for classical musicians around here), but we watched each other’s back and maintained certain standards with the same spirit. I could not play for free without feeling guilty for what I am doing to my fellow musician’s abilities to make a living. Not to mention if I’m up there playing, I’m going to play well enough that I deserve to get paid.

So here’s my idea for our world. If every writer who says "don’t quit your day job" or "it’s nearly impossible to make a living at this" starts saying "writers deserve to make a living from their craft" three times, maybe we can start moving our energies in a more profitable direction for ourselves.

Even if you don’t believe in woo-woo-universal-energy, you can believe that focusing on the latter will help us figure out the how, and focusing on the former will end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If we writers don’t believe in the value of our art, who else will?

15 bonus scribbles:

Edie 11/26/2007 09:13:00 AM  

Spy, I just repeated "Writers deserve to making a living from their craft" three times. I totally agree with this. The reason I'm pursuing print publishing is because I think I deserve to get paid, and get paid decently.

Liz Wolfe 11/26/2007 11:01:00 AM  

EXACTLY! I believe this applies to all kinds of artists -- writers, musicians, painters, etc.
This almost sets me off on another tangent rant about people who expect me to give them my books everytime a new one is published. But, I'm too busy writing to do that right now.

Erica Orloff 11/26/2007 11:19:00 AM  

You know . . .

I take some freelance writing assignments for corporations. And I consistently charge is the very upper ranges of what P.R. writers get. And if they don't want to pay me what I am worth, then I look elsewhere but I will NOT lowball. And you know what? When I started asking for the big bucks and believing my skill deserved it, I started getting the big bucks and my clients don't blink.

I feel the same about fiction . . . It's art and talent and I DID quit my day job, and will never go back. I make a living to support six people and have for 10 years now, four of them almost entirely from fiction.

StarvingWriteNow 11/26/2007 11:46:00 AM  

Good, thoughtful post. As I am struggling internally with my muse and direction, it is definitely a hash mark on the positive side. Thanks!

spyscribbler 11/26/2007 02:35:00 PM  

Thanks, Edie! Amen to getting paid.

Definitely, Liz. You know what cracks me up? Some people not only want me to play for them for free, but they act like they're doing me a great favor!

Definitely, Erica! On my one stint pursuing a day job, I used an employment service thingy. I told them I wanted such-and-such salary. The girl laughed at me, told me it wasn't possible. I insisted. Not a week later, she called me up, starting with "I can't believe it, but ..."

And I'm so glad you don't lowball. That's awesome. You're not just doing you a service there, you're doing all writers a service, you know?

Thanks, writenow. Funny how someone can take something positive from an irritated rant. I'm relieved, LOL!

Mark Terry 11/26/2007 04:13:00 PM  

I agree absolutely. Although there's probably a time in any type of career where you work on spec or work for relatively little money to gain experience and a portfolio, at some point you ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO INSIST YOU GET PAID APPROPRIATELY FOR WHAT YOU DO.

avery 11/26/2007 11:07:00 PM  

Oh, my art. My craft. To make money from it would be to sell my immortal soul.

Yeah, right. Fork over the cash.

raine 11/27/2007 04:01:00 AM  

(Raine, clicking her heels three times...)

I deserve...I deserve...

Cat Marsters/Kate Johnson 11/27/2007 08:19:00 AM  

Um...selling your soul to make money? Only people with plenty of moulah can afford to think like that. Me? I work ten hours a day at this, weekends and holiday, and I don't make minimum wage. But I damn well should.

*starts humming 'do you hear the people sing?' under my breath*

Vive la revolution!

Lorraine Bartlett 11/27/2007 10:01:00 AM  

I've had family members tell me I'm an idiot because I actually PAY for the music I like. They have no concept of copyright or that if artists aren't paid for their work, they can't afford to do it.

Lori G. Armstrong,  11/28/2007 09:00:00 AM  

I agree with everything except for the Trump being Mozart comment.

Mozart died a pauper.

Apples and oranges.

spyscribbler 11/28/2007 09:48:00 AM  

LOL, Lori. I was comparing Trump to Mozart, because Mozart's the most brilliant artist I could think of. And Trump is the most brilliant deal maker I can think of.

But both of them did their whatever for money. Mozart, especially.

spyscribbler 11/28/2007 09:52:00 AM  

Definitely, Mark. With both points, I agree with everything you said.

LOL, Bailey and Avery! :-)

Raine, I hope it works!

Cat, so true. And I'm so happy to hear you say that. You wouldn't believe how many writers--full-time writers--look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them how many hours I work. I'm not often up to ten hours a day, but ... I'm so glad to hear someone else works long hours at this business!

Lorraine, that makes me cringe, definitely! *sigh* What can you do?