Friday, April 15, 2011

A writer's lament

What does it mean to be a writer? In coming to terms with my passion for words and making the decision that this will be my career path I have asked myself this question on numerous occasions. The answer is rarely, if ever, something beautiful. The experiences I have had professionally skews the answer towards 'rough'. And it's not as simple the 'life of the starving artist'. Working through my passion has taught me that artists don't need to starve. Funnily enough writers are the 'soup kitchen' tenants of the artistry world, we define starving artist. As a world we don't seem to value creative property as we should. After all what is a book but black words on white paper as compared to a canvas which is often so many colours or modern day graphics which uses so much technology to create worlds within worlds. It could take one weeks, months, years to paint the perfect 'Monet-inspired piece' or to create the next great cartoon but how long does it take someone to write the next New York Times Best selling novel? It could take weeks, months or years. So the question is why is the writer always fighting so much harder to prove his or her worth. It could be because people don't like to read. Yet, I refuse to accept its that simple. Why? When someone approaches you to put their idea or any idea on paper and they expect that it should cost nothing or very little because its just pieces of paper with black letters on them. No it isn't. Its hours of thought, of research, of writing, of editing and writing again. Its moments of writer's block. Every creative process involves so much and when it comes from your brain and your heart it involves so much more. Any artist from any artistic field will tell you that. It is just as multi-layered as building a house and if its not done right it will fall apart. But what makes being the underpaid, under-respected writer even more frustration is writing that commercial that is playing REPEATEDLY on your television screen and remembering that you bargained from JA$10,000 to JA$2,000 because of the 'small budget'. Its not the small budget. Its your lack of respect for creative property, for the writer's process. Most everything begins with a script- its written down by someone somewhere but somehow writing is viewed as easy come easy go and treated like its worth even less. And its BULLSHIT. Writers are slaving away at typewriters and computers long before the designer is brought in or the director sometimes before the cameraman even knows there is a script but hey thanks for your commitment now take your chicken shit pay and leave.
I'm fed up with "Can I get a movie script in a month?" Sure you can but for me to work around the clock for a month I am going to need to be paid for that time WHILE I am doing the work. What happens if you don't want the script? What happens to WORK I did for you? There is electricity for the computer, there is sustenance to keep me going while writing. I don't shit these things out. I use my brain cells. I write, weep, write, scream, write, drink, write and write and write. My printer it uses ink and paper and electricity. Pens run out of ink as well and sometimes all the thinking gives you migraines. You're going to hire me then pay and don't tell me shit about providing images- that's a photographer's job, another artistic profession and I not 'tiefing' no food off no man's plate. What's my profession? I'm a writer. My tools are passion, brain cells, time, effort, thought, printer, paper, ink, computer, mass storage device, google, the library, TV, radio, magazines, books,life, conversation, people, images, wind, sun, air, light, food, money, gas, transportation, phone, patience, emotion and oh yea...words.

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