Monday, 15 July 2013

Writing - Yes, It's Work and Warrants Remuneration

Ok, so the article I thought I had shared to my Facebook, didn't actually share and the very intelligent comment that I'd posted to go with it looks less than intelligent without it. And yes, the smart comments of others are I suppose, deserved.
It was such a good article too, but the most annoying thing is that I can't find it again, and I don't remember who the author was. In my attempts to find it, however, though not finding the actual one I have found a number of others on a similar theme. If I ever find the one that I read in the first place, I promise to reference it and the author properly and thank him/her now for the thoughts.

It was about writer's not being thought of as doing a real "job" and so many times are expected to write, talk about their writing, give opinions and views on theirs and other people's writing ... for free, ie without proper payment.
The article writer in question cited a time when they were asked to speak about their 'work' at a venue that involved a journey of 250 miles. The 'payment' turned out to be 6 bottles of a supermarket's own brand red wine. On asking for an expenses form they were greeted with amazement and it was clear that it had never crossed anyone's mind that real payment and/or expenses would be required.

Perhaps the writer should have been grateful for the publicity and thankful that the opportunity to show and advertise his work was payment enough. Sadly, this seems to be a frequent event for writers unless an actual  commission has been agreed on.

How can this be and is a writer the only job where working for free is expected ? It's not as if we expect an electrician or a doctor or a window cleaner or a plumber to work and not get paid (although actually I know people who do expect that )

I have written many things that have been published, without payment. Years ago,seeing my work and my name in the Times Educational Supplement gave me as much if not more pleasure than the paid for stories in magazines. But that was when I had another real job to make my living from.
And more recently - and naievely-  persuading myself that the 'honour' of having my writing on someone who used to work for the BBC's blog was great and even asking what he would like for the next piece. (Can't believe I did that ... )
Pleasure or publicity doesn't pay the bills.

Since the advent of the internet, - and it's not that long ago that we didn't have it - we tend to believe that information is free and anyone can be a writer. It's not that difficult to press a few buttons and let the whole universe know your every thought, is it ? But not everyone can be a professional writer and it seems to me that the "media" and the big corporations are cashing in, literally, on the work and creativity of writers. It's a sign of the times and a result of the 'free market' but maybe the ones who are really to blame are us, the writers ourselves, by allowing it to happen.

So stand strong fellow writers. Don't allow your work to be given freely and challenge the perceptions  that writing is not a job but something that people do in their spare time, sitting on the bed in their pyjamas.

On that note, payment in cash or in kind is accepted for this blog, and suggestions for the future most welcome.