Writing is Cheap

It’s unfortunate, this assumption that because you are capable of writing it means writing is easy. That it’s not work. But writing–good writing–is incredibly hard. People just aren’t willing to pay writers what they really deserve, and, often, don’t give them the proper recognition. You don’t see celebrity worship for script writers, and they certainly aren’t being paid as much as most of those speaking the written words.

I don’t even think the problem is with employers, though. More than anything, I think the fault lies with the writers themselves, and the same argument can be made for most artists. They give away their work for little to nothing or, worst of all, “exposure.” They don’t realize that nobody cares about writers or artists–they care about the work. They care about what their peers say is worth looking at. And if it’s cheap, it’s probably not worth looking at. If somebody offers you no pay for your work, but you’ll get exposure, it’s exploitation. It’s capitalizing off some intangible pipe dream. And people are falling for it. Listen: the guys running the website or magazine or gallery are getting paid. They’re paying the printers, the stockers, the guys hanging everything on the walls. That’s all work. So is the art. And art isn’t necessarily easier. In fact, it’s likely much harder work.

But not only are writers/artists giving their work away, there’s this potentially worse concept of “art” as having meaning beyond monetary compensation. And yes, it does, of course it does, but if anything that should make it more valuable. And this bullshit idea of “selling out.” Sure, doing Subway commercials is one thing. But writing or making art for money? That’s work. That doesn’t cheapen the art–it’s the opposite. This false idea that you’re prostituting yourself or your work because the people paying for it don’t appreciate it enough is only serving to make art more and more worthless.

Yeah, art is romantic. But people romanticize it to the point where compensation is scoffed at or gratefully accepted for lower than its worth, and the more they do so the more difficult it is for artists to actually profit from their work. Being able to create full time because it pays would be better than working on the rock pile nine hours a day and selling whatever you create in the evenings for what amounts to three bucks per hour. If that.

Art isn’t priceless. The people who tell you that are trying to scam you.

– H.

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