Whores wanted!

A few weeks ago, I wrote what was arguably my greatest and most accurate Facebook status ever:

This revelation came from weeks of checking Craigslist every day for random writing gigs, in the futile attempt to find a winning combination that would allow me to quit my current job and throw myself into what I really love. Once in a while, I’d find something I could see myself doing, only to scroll down to the Compensation section to see: “no pay.” Then I’d weigh out in my head if my time was worth the experience it would give me, much like I imagine a prostitute weighs the pros and cons before getting into a john’s car. Oh, wait. Except prostitutes get paid. Whores do it for free.
But it’s Craigslist, I reminded myself. Craigslist is shady; I shouldn’t even be considering ghostwriting someone’s shitty memoir for free, but I am, because there’s nothing else. If only I had another place to look for writing jobs, a place that values writing and writers as indispensable members of society. 
So I started checking AWP and Poets & Writers: two sites that are routinely referenced as great resources during my twice-yearly writing residencies. These sites regularly post writing-related jobs from across the country. What did I find? More of the same.

Internship (Unpaid)

With a wider lens, a pattern emerged before me: what writers do isn’t worth paying for. We’re expected to work 40-60 hours per week, offering up our creative process and product, for nothing. And be grateful for the work. But how are we supposed to clothe and feed ourselves, get around or have a place to sleep? Apparently, these are just annoying and impolite questions that a whore doesn’t deserve to ask.

This got me thinking about the music business: more specifically, about the musicians who are pissed about their songs being pirated online. How much of our shit do we writers give away for nothing, in the name of experience or recognition? Who decided that their art was worth millions, or billions of dollars, while I sit in front of my computer trying to piece together 10 different freelance jobs to make ends meet, lowering your standards and rate of pay to steal the job away from another struggling writer? If that doesn’t make you feel like a whore, I don’t know what would. And, just like in the world of prostitution, there’s always a whore who will do it for less, or even for free in exchange for college credit.

In the end, all I can say is this: your work is worth paying for. Respect it and cherish it. Stop giving it away for free, because you’re fucking it up for everyone else.