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Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Monday Mumblings Contemplates The Creative Life

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


Today's musings come courtesy of John Scalzi, who yesterday posted his periodic notice that he does not work for free. Also read the follow-up

Now, I'm not in Mr. Scalzi's work and financial position, but he has some excellent points that apply to anyone in creative work. Heck, judging from the comments, a lot of people in other jobs have the same problem.

I'm sure some people approach Mr. Scalzi simply because he's well-known author. Surely he won't miss the income on a freebie project. His name isn't Shirley, and while he many not miss the income (I don't know this for sure), there's a larger point to be made. Whether you flip burgers, work on cars, paint, operate on brains, or write, this is how you make your living. You get paid a set rate for your work, and you may or may not have the power to vary that rate. 

If you flip burgers for a living, what would you say if a complete stranger asked you to stand over the grill at a party and cook in return "for the exposure?" What if they asked you to come flip burgers at their new restaurant and they promised to pay you later "when the money started to come in?" 

This is the kind of thing creatives are faced with on a regular basis. Then there are the people who want to pay a token rate that wouldn't even cover the time involved, much less materials. (Think: flip burgers for half of minimum wage and supply your own uniform, grill, and utensils.)

Hey, I get this all the time. I have bills to pay. I have to keep the lights on, the computer running, pay the doctor, pay the plumber, and buy food. Oh, and I have a hell of a college tuition bill to pay for the kid. I'm paying all these people who don't work for free. Why should I work for free or less than a proper wage?

Sure, I do work for a non-profit. I volunteer my time.I give to charity. But I can afford to do it because the bills get paid. It's not the other way around. 

Thanks for bearing with me through this rant. Now go read The Oatmeal.

Tags: Writing

Filed under: Writing   Monday Mumblings         
12/10/2012 4:39:00 PM
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