Saturday, 2 May 2015

writing for free

I'm being sarcastic. I don't love writing for free. I spend time doing research, crafting the right words, and trying to keep people entertained. The fact that I enjoy the work doesn't stop it being work, and does not make it worth less. I've moaned about it before, here.

I do lots of writing that I don't share on the blog,
here's a wee teaser from a recent poem.
I've reintroduced ads on the blog because they seem to have improved since I last had them, and because I am not averse to making money. I also do other writing, which I don't share on here, but do attempt to make money with instead.

I mentioned the other day that I follow the Harper Collins Authonomy blog, the other day this featured a quote from Andrew Solomon (a writer, who also did this lovely TED talk), himself quoting Rainer Maria Rilker (a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist):
Rilke has written, “Search for the cause, find the impetus that bids you write. Put it to this test: Does it stretch out its roots in the deepest place of your heart? Can you avow that you would die if you were forbidden to write? Above all, in the most silent hour of your night, ask yourself this: Must I write? Dig deep into yourself for a true answer. And if it should ring its assent, if you can confidently meet this serious question with a simple, ‘I must,’ then build your life upon it.” That rhetoric of urgency is the credo of most writers: we may be on this path for profit, for fame, for catharsis—but, more fundamentally, we are there because it seems the only possibility.
It's a nice quote. It's a nice way of looking at things. But it doesn't ring true for me. Writing is not the only possibility. I can craft stories and poems, and even blog posts, and get caught up in doing so. But I can do other things as well. Does this mean I'm not a real writer?

I don't think so. In fact, I think that the idea that writers must write, that they might die without it, gives an excuse for not paying people, and not valuing the work. Just as mothers like me, who give up paid work to care for our families, are not valued (except by our families), for the work which we do, which produces amazing results throughout the lives of our children.

Anyhow, that's another matter.

There are lots of writers. There are strange people who sit in metaphorical turrets, scrawling their tales on foolscap paper, or tapping it out in MS DOS. There are writers who write in snatched moments on their mobile phones. Some might say they 'need' to write (and George RR Martin does), but all of us need to eat. 

Also, what would we do if no-one wrote? No novels, no blogs, no newspapers, no TV programmes? How would we learn? How would we fill our time? How would we entice Aidan Turner to take his top off and scythe?

Thank goodness people do. And thank goodness we get paid for it.