I just sold a consignment item and made a little money, enough to FINALLY open a savings account and pay off a couple of bills. Whoopee! Then I retrieved my mail and found a bill for the latest greatest medical test. Now I’m worse off than I was before. Gee, thanks for nothing, Universe!
Money. We need it, we want it, we can’t live without it and if we don’t have enough, we suffer. When it arrives in excess, it causes more problems than it solves. Taxes, investments, people with their hands out asking or even demanding a payout “since you have so much.”
I’m sorry to say I don’t have the last problem, but in a way I’m glad, too. No one who knows me ever hits me up because they all know how broke I am. With a little extra income trickling in, the thought of getting caught up looks more possible than improbable lately.
Writing income is mostly freelance. Freelancers and independent contractors have to think about taxes—taking them out, figuring them—and other things like health insurance employees can usually leave up to their employers. Although I do work full-time, my finances are about to get a bit more complicated.
So why do I even care? I’m not doing this for money, am I? It’s art, right?
Piffle. Artists get paid the same as other people. Graphic designers do artwork, whether they are freelance or not, and they get paid. If I commission my fantastically talented friend Tiffany Turrill to paint my portrait, I know she’ll expect to be paid.
Some people are under the mistaken impression that artists, musicians and writers shouldn’t be paid because we enjoy our work. Now hold on a minute there. Certainly we enjoy it, or we wouldn’t be trying to make a career out of it. This kind of activity isn’t likely to pay the bills the same way a job as an engineer or even a receptionist would. (Pardon a moment…bwaa ha ha ha! Okay, I’m done) Others think to even talk about fair pay for our creative work is—ahem!—indelicate.
Again piffle, and let me add, pooh. Work is work. I work just as hard when I’m writing as I do at my job, just doing different things. I may not share with you what I’m earning for answering the phone or for the last ten articles I turned in. That doesn’t mean I don’t care about it. I worked every night, at lunch and on weekends for six months writing my book and then another five or six learning to edit the damn thing. If I publish it, I expect to be paid, and I will be.
Yesterday I read a post by Susanne Lucas, aka Evil HR Lady, about doing work for free as part of an interview testing process. Freelancers come across this all the time. There’s a huge difference between submitting a sample or taking a brief software test and being asked to produce a useable document, program tweak or graphic that then becomes the property of the interviewer. Bottom line: rude and exploitive. Everyone, not just freelancers, should be paid for the work they do.
I would probably write even if I didn’t get paid. Did it for years, on my own, by cracky. I like blogging and no one pays me for that. I’m doing a lot of unpaid work learning my craft, with which I do hope to earn a living someday. That’s neither indelicate nor greedy.
If we all could choose our life’s work and immediately begin doing it for a comfortable paycheck, how many of us would pick what we’re doing now? Who would have thought when I was sitting in a treehouse as a kid making up stories that I would be here? Where will here lead? I don’t know about you, but I’m kinda excited to find out. (Hurry up, Universe. I ain’t gettin’ any younger. Now get off my lawn.)
Whatever that secret aspiration is, if you get paid for it, you’re among the lucky. Chances are you’ve worked like hell to be there. Be proud of yourself, for cripes sake. You deserve it. And you might want to step aside, because I’m right behind you.