Free or Reasonable?

There has been a lot of internet chat about creatives being expected to work for free, or for exposure. I attended a writers conference this weekend, where an editor made a good point. He pointed out that the query letter is a professional letter, because you have a product which needs to be sold.

You can write art. It can be a great book. But he’s right, we have to sell it. We have to be paid. In order to create more wonderful work, we have to pay for food to fuel our bodies, electricity to run our laptops, internet charges to stay connected, fuel to heat our homes, and of course, to take care of medical necessities or buy reasonably priced clothing.

Without selling our ideas, but rather giving them away, we continue to put obstacles in our path to becoming the best writer or artist or musician or (fill in the blank). We can’t break free to create art, because instead, to buy the necessities, we are tied to jobs. There’s bad, good, better and best. Is that job our best option? Great! But if it’s only better or good, it needs to be examined against what we claim are our priorities. And if it’s bad, well, it needs to go….

It becomes clearer and clearer to me as I dive into the writing world, that we writers sell ourselves short. Yes, there is a learning curve and when we’re on it, our product may not be worth people shelling out money….yet. But once it is, there’s no reason not to push to get paid.

I’ve invested in my writing. I’ve taken classes, workshops, and continue to put in the time to develop. I’ve had several people tell me writing isn’t that hard. They’re wrong, but let’s clarify. Writing WELL is hard. Writing sentences that sing, soar, and sink is a struggle. Pacing consistently throughout plot is a disciplined exercise. Dialogue that sounds convincing takes time to master. Creating entire worlds is not for the faint of heart.

Ultimately, I’m not stating that we all need to make gobs of money to be successful writers. But paying creatives a living wage for their blood, sweat, tears and inspiration is only fair.

Free or reasonable?

Aren’t we all reasonable people?


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