Reading other bloggers is inspiring. Today I visited Practically Twisted and discovered once more how many other artists and writers deal with being asked to work for free. No more giving it ALL away so often. I remember this line from “The Color Purple”. “Stop givin’ away all your shit!” Maybe I am becoming more forceful. Seeing purple? (It is after all a healing color…LOL!)
Harlan Ellison says it all very clearly, in words I have spoken. He says it clearly and forcefully!
Hearing the words “but it will be good exposure for you” one too many times prompted me to say quite clearly, “If I simply wanted more exposure, I could take off my clothes and run down Main Street. You know people can die from exposure!” I try to keep a sense of humor about it all – to a point.
A few years ago, I, too had a very brief career as a professional photo journalist.
After the publication of my poem (yesterday’s post) I was asked if I would be willing to write some short farmy feature articles for a newspaper. Yup.
After the first article was published I was paid – $40.00. It was short, so okay, I had agreed ahead of time to that. They liked my work and ideas so much they asked for more. I agreed to produce more. They loved them. They were popular… their readers responded positively. The last article I wrote for them was about an outdoor adventure with a local organization. I wanted to go on it anyway, so I did. After three days on the road (2 in the rain), interviewing people, documenting their adventure in words and images and joining in, I then wrote the story, which took three days of writing, selecting and editing photos and soggy notes.
When it was published, a full page plus, a lot of people called with positive feedback. The pay? Still $40.00. At that rate I figured it out – 3 days of expenses for travel, camera equipment, roughly 40 hours of writing and editing… what’s wrong with this picture? Less than 50 cents an hour, I quit. I made more baby-sitting as a teenager with few bills to pay!
$40.00 per article. That was their policy. Didn’t matter how many photos, how many words. $40.00. The saving grace in this story, I did sell a few photos to some of the adventurers from that last article, and will probably sell more. After I quit writing features for the paper, the editor offered to hire me – full time. A nice man, an excellent writer, who became a friend. The pay was modest. That was an issue and the bigger issue came when I asked what I would be expected to write about. The answer? Murder, accidents, court cases. “No thanks, ” I answered. “I intend to write about the positive things in the community. I believe that when we focus on the negative, for shock value or whatever, it encourages more. I want to encourage families to do things together, for people to appreciate this countryside and see the opportunities around us. Thanks, and no thanks.” He understood and I appreciate that. He said he envied me for not selling out.
As an editor he gave me support, encouragement and words I will never forget. “Everybody has a story. All you have to do is ask the question and listen.” Thanks, Tom, that was worth the $40.00.
Yesterday, I wrote “Why do we write? To remember, to capture a moment, a feeling, a smell of something or someone we love and then… to share it.” I also write and make art to be paid. Compliments and admiration are encouraging and do not pay the bills.
Yep. (and a note to my friends… don’t worry, yes, you will still receive gifts!)
May your day be filled with everything you deserve – we all deserve the best. Follow your bliss and be sure you keep your clothes on… most of the time anyway. 🙂