I’ve been trying to figure out how I feel about something. I’ve turned it over in my mind for a few days and I’m still not sure how I fall on the issue. How important is getting payed for your writing? Does it, in and of itself, mean that you are now a professional, that you matter more to the greater community?
It started the other day when I saw various people talking about getting payed for writing about video games. Said one person, “If you are unwilling to ask about getting payed, when I ask for payment the next time I write something, I might not get payed too.” Said another, “I can’t seem to get payed for anything I do.” Spoke a third, “If I could pay my writers, I would. Right now, I can’t. But I want to.” I read all of these while I was waiting for some people to leave so I could clean up after them.
You see, I work as a janitor. I don’t talk about it much because it’s not something I like to mention to people. I mean, how do you casually bring that up in conversation? “Hi, I write on the Internet sometimes. Also, I clean toilets to help pay for my tuition costs.” It’s not something most people want to hear and not something I often like to talk about, especially to those who might offer me a new job, a better paying job to write things. I just go about my business and keep my head down.
I try to keep my head down anyway. Occasionally, as I’ve tried to be more active on Twitter, I’ve made a fool of myself.
That happened again the other day and, while I will not link to the exact statements, it’s been on my mind. In summary, I was told I should not compare myself to other writers if I am not getting payed for my work. No matter the load, no matter if I was putting out several thousand words a day, it did not matter if I was not getting payed. That was how I translated, in my own mind, what was said anyway. I took it to mean that I could write for myself, for my own happiness, but I could only dream about equality with this other certain writer, someone I admire for their constant and prolific good material. I did not matter if I was not getting payed for my work.
I’m not sure the person meant it that way. I’m not sure if, just because I made a stupid and asinine joke about quantity of material this writer puts out seemingly every single day, that they were just reacting out of annoyance that some blogger (me) was questioning them. Perhaps that was the case. Or, as I later thought about, it really is that I’m not important to the greater stage unless I am getting payed, unless I am part of some greater organization. It’s that last thought that pushed me into writing a short story the other day.
You may have noticed “Statues make the best idols” from the other day. That was my passive aggressive way of trying to explain what had happened to myself. What if, I thought, it was not the people who you admire but the ideas behind their work? Do their faces really matter at all? Is it who they are from time to time or what they do that matters? After thinking about it some, I think I fall on the actions being louder than words side of the argument.
I know I don’t really matter right now. I know that. Just this morning, I replied to a comment that said what I have been doing the last few days, the ever growing commentary on Katawa Shoujo, was silly and, as was implied in the comment, worthless to write in the manner I have been doing. And, after considering it, I agree with those thoughts. Sure, it’s silly. Most of the stuff I write is silly, dumb and, in several cases, probably mostly crap too.
But that’s not really the issue, I think. It’s more that I’m doing it at all. You don’t have to convince me that there are way too many video game bloggers out there. I know that too. I only read a small subset of them and still end up with lots of stuff that, after I’ve read what they had to say, I was not convinced it was worth my time. I’ve spent hours reading though thousands of words just to think, after I scrolled through pages of material, that I wanted that time back. And I know my own writing is no different. There are lots of posts that are not worth your time. Some are, but most aren’t.
Here is what I have decided. Write. That’s it. Writing is writing is writing. If you want to write for a living or even just a hobby, do it. That is the lesson I have learned from years at this. You can talk about how you would change something, how you might do it different in a book. I’ve certainly done that from time to time and even in the last few days too. It’s not a matter of just seeing the errors either, most people can pattern match for grammar. It’s all a matter of wanting to do it, of having the discipline of putting word after word together every day.
My default is to be sarcastic. I am often mean to people and highly critical of works I read. (You might have noticed that in my latest series.) I could give you excuses for it, but I won’t. I want to be better and I am trying to be more optimistic and cheerful about things. After all, I clean up other people’s crap for money, the least I could do is not bring that same crap attitude to my writing at the end of the day, to let it influence how I write and what I say about things.
Here is my personal challenge for this year: be better. If you, like me, want to eventually be payed for your work, show your passion. Write about the things you love. Write about the things you did not like. Try to point out, if you think something might be bad, how they might have changed it. Be open to different things, different ideas.
It’s a struggle. As was pointed out to me, I’m not there yet. I can talk big, but until I’ve got the audience, the right attitude and the necessary experience, I’m still just working my way up the mountain of professional writing. It’s a long road, longer than I thought I had left. Still, I will go on and I think you should too.
Let’s walk together on this journey. Every day is a step, sometimes forward and sometimes back. Though we may stumble when we do not pay attention to how we are walking, let’s continue anyway. Write. Do it.