A friend alerted me to an article this morning:
My first response was as follows:
It would be lovely to get paid for writing, but I actually resent people who set out to get paid for it. I doubt I could effectively explain that in a short comment. When I was a teenager, getting ridiculously high marks for English and my career's officer suggested journalism, I was given a tour of the local newspaper and decided there and then that I never wanted anything to do with it. It is only in blogging (for free) that I feel I am writing "right". I don't expect anyone to agree with me.
But then I thought, that's going to get me into trouble, so I may as well be even more controversial:
OR.........writing for money is like sex for money.
So, now I have very few people not shaking their fists at me, I shall continue.
Writing is like talking, only on paper, or, in most cases these days, on a screen. Some people do get paid for talking, it's true, but at least they have travelling expenses, and probably large bills for their hair, clothes etc, our world being what it is. That doesn't altogether justify it, and let's assume the talker is actually doing it somewhere without all that. Many possibilities there, at a party, at the water-cooler, you choose. Do you pay him for his opinions? No, that would be ridiculous.
There are those who talk for a living such as teachers, priests, and TV newsreaders, but they do a lot more besides. They are not just spouting off their opinions. And then there are authors, who devote months to their art and produce a piece of work that is lasting, memorable, or possibly life-changing.
These days, because we have blogging as a real outlet for writing, we have a lot of free writing in the world. Some of it is quality writing, and some is not, but it's available for free. Where there is good blogging it is stealing thunder from journalism. Newspapers are dying, due to the internet, and online publications are, at least for now, mostly available free. So journalism is not the same as it once was, because things change.
In a way, blogging could be blamed for the lack of opportunities open to journalists, but the situation itself is not new. There have always been buskers and amazing pavement art, graffiti, and so on, but musicians and artists still found regular work. The difference is, buskers and street artists aren't whining about those who get paid gigs. In fact, plenty of artists and musicians use the "free" exposure to start their careers, which is why You Tube and Deviant Art are full of talent. Why is writing different?
Because for years the industry was a cosy environment where really bad writing flourished, and hacks got paid by the word. Journalism, in fact, could be quite a dirty word. Mistakes, rumours, or complete fabrication, intrusive behaviour, and some of the worst grammar in print. There are exceptions to every rule, I'm fully aware of them, and the very best rose to the top, deservedly so. That's how artistic life is. It's a contest. The arts are not like other jobs.
And here's why. Not all writing is equal and some is a matter of taste. Just like music, just like art. I have explained many times in my blogging life why I don't get involved in the writing community, and frankly, people don't like it. My first post here at Blogger was this one:
If you write something, and get paid for it, good for you. Congratulations. On the other hand, if you write FOR money, don't expect any sympathy from me if you don't get it. The worst writing I see on a regular basis was intended for profit.
Don't bother telling me about bills to pay. If I didn't have bills to pay I'd be writing all day too. OR....I could spend all day dancing, and whine about not getting paid for that. If you've seen me dance, you'll know that nobody is ever going to pay to watch me wiggle. No, I write when I have time, for pleasure, and if one day money comes my way from it, great! But it's not a get-rich-quick scheme, it's a matter of quality, taste, and luck. And that's how it's always been, and how it should be.
If I didn't believe in writing as an art, I wouldn't be supporting my son as a full-time writer, who may never make a penny from it, despite the fact he is actually good at it, and he may just sponge off me forever. So this is not just theoretical. This is my life, I am sincere in my opinion, not just tossing words about, and nothing anyone can say will convince me otherwise.
And, you read this for free. Enjoy.