Why did it have to be writing? Why couldn’t I have just wanted to be a real estate agent or a banker? Hell, I’d even settle for wanting to be a teacher. But no, I just have to be completely and irrevocably infatuated with arranging words for entertainment.
In this day and age where the internet has effectively eroded what it means to be a writer, even the idea of making a career out of such a thing is becoming unattainable. From where I’m sitting it seems there are only a handful of people who actually have a career in writing and the only reason they do is because they started well before me and they’ve held onto their positions for many, many years.
Today, a 17 year old will happily write for free and do a good enough job that a website, blog, publication or even a magazine will be happy to run it, just to save a bit money. And even then if you manage you convince someone you can do a better job than a 17 year old, it’s expected that as a writer you will end up working for free just “to get your name out there” which I think is bullshit for so many reasons.
I often wonder what would happen if all writers collectively said they would no longer work for free. Would magazines and websites crash overnight? Would they get paid? Would bigger companies pay to continue the flow of writing? Would the world end? I would love to know…
Somewhere along the way the industry of writing lost itself. There was a line drawn in the sand (probably around the time most magazines started to go broke) that basically said no, you can no longer get paid to be a writer. That is unless you want to take the fear mongering and downright ridiculous assignments at the *insert just about every news outlet’s name here* paper.
There is another alternative though, don’t worry! You can start a website or a blog and build a following, then start assaulting them with ads (because there isn’t enough advertisement out there already right? Do soles of shoes still come blank?) just so you can promote some massive corporation and barely make ends meet, but don’t worry it’ll only compromise your integrity.
Don’t get me wrong, I never expected to start a blog for a few months, bitch about why I hate the way the world works, talk about my love of cars, video games and skateboards to then have a Pulitzer magically appear on my desk. What I did expect was to work myself to the bone for as long as possible and build a portfolio, take some freelance gigs and build my way up via an internship or something along those lines.
What I didn’t expect was the sheer selfishness of some people and how willing they are to exploit you for their own gain, because they know there is another idiot lining up around the corner just waiting for the chance to “get their name out there.”
I’ve tried other things, I’ve tried photography, design, audio production, film making and even starting a retail business but nothing, not one thing comes close to giving me the feeling I get from writing.
I hate it. I hate that I’m a writer.
But also, I don’t hate it. I don’t hate it one bit.
I love that there is something that I care about this much that I am still sitting here at 2:37am writing something that won’t change the world, that won’t even matter 4 minutes after I hit publish. Few people are going to bother reading this, even less are going to understand what it means, even less will criticize it and maybe one or two people will tell me that they read and enjoyed it. But still, I’m doing it.
See the thing is most people will do something they don’t like for money. Most people will do something that’s passable just to earn a salary and that’s enough of a driving force to keep them getting up every morning. But not a lot of people, at least none that I’ve met, are as daft as me.
I’ve never met someone who does something, day in and day out just because they love it. I’ve never met someone so blindly and stupidly dedicated to something that they stick to it even though there isn’t a cent in sight.
I write for me. These words are being written by me, for me.
And you know what? It’s a pretty great feeling to have before you go to bed.