What follows verbatim is an e-mail posted to craigslist's "writing gigs" subscription list back on 5 June 2006. Written in response to several writers who had objected to the number of solicitations for writers to write for free (receiving, instead of payment, the glow that comes from having your work published or produced by organizations that advertise via craigslist), it sadly demonstrates how writers in particular, and artists as a whole, are perceived by many of the individuals who employ us.
I am getting a bit fed up with all these belly-aching writers. Of course writing is not profitable! It's an art! Can you imagine if all the painters and collage-makers complained as much as you do about not being rich? ...Listen "writers": you do it cause you love it. If you are looking to pay your rent then be a plumber. None of your favorite writers made a living doing what the world remembers them for, instead they were doctors (chekhov), or postal workers (bukowski), or installing air conditioners (vonnegut) ...writers who complain about not getting paid enough are like firemen who don't feel like people refer to them enough as heroes-- which is to say they are doing it for the wrong reasons. just because you write does not entitle you to literary attention-- it doesn't mean you are talented. i'm beginning to think it doesn't even mean you like writing.
so please, paying gigs and non-paying gigs-- keep 'em coming-- but can we try to keep the self-righteous whining to a minimum??
So the toils of plumbing, doctoring, postal work, and installing air conditioners are worthy of payment -- but not writing? And note how diabolically it's suggested that if you expect to be paid for your artwork, you're "doing it for the wrong reasons." Unfortunate, however, are the examples cited, as Chekhov, Bukowski, and Vonnegut all went on to enjoy lucrative writing careers.
They didn't achieve that status by accepting the wrongheaded notion that they should write for free.
I am a fan of Dean Koontz and I know in interviews with him he has said he struggled for his art, there were many years of low income and wondering wher the next pay check was coming from. But then this is analogous to most other trades, anyone starting out in a new career are on low salary until established.
I am an accountant by trade and I was on the worst salary in the history of man ;) when I started but earn a decent salary now taht I am established.
I agree with you though, a lot of work goes into writing, I think maybe some think that writers just sit down for a day and booom...a book is made.
You'll receive no argument from me that how much one is paid should be commensurate with her/his experience. What I object to, and what the writers who originally objected to the posts were objecting to, is the expectation that writers should write for free.
As an accountant, when you started out, would you have worked for free? Probably not. That's my objection: why are writers (and other artists) expected to perform gratis? (Rhetorical question there.)
Oh, you are totally preaching to the converted. I agree with you 110%. I can toally see wher eyou are coming from as people sometimes ask for tax returns to be done for free or ask for financial advice and expect it all to be free. I mean, yeah I help people out where I can but if I let everyone have the info for free then I'd be living onthe streets.
I think there are two classifications here for writers. there are those that write for pleasure and those that write for profit. I'm not implying a wall between the two and I know ther is overlap (pleasure will earn, and earners wil lget pleasure from writing).
I think if a writer has done a good job then they deserve some form of return. Its like Shareware on the net. If something out thereis an excellent piece of software then the writer deserves a little return on their work.