I do not work for free.
I feel as if I’ve said it a million times.
Artists should not work for nothing. If you give your work away, you devalue it in the worst ways. I like my work, and it has some commercial value. It is work! It’s fun at times, and can be rewarding, but people who pretend that making something isn’t work are fooling no one but themselves.
Today, I am embarking on a new project. It is writing, so it must be work.
I’m not getting paid for it… Not in terms of cash, anyway.
I hope that my reward will take the form of pride, delight, and the value of the experience. I also hope that I will learn a thing or two… I suspect that I shall.
I’ve written stories for a long time. I wrote my first novel when I was fourteen. I’ve written for comics and for computer games, and I’ve worked in advertising. I’ve even written training manuals.
The first thing I wrote that anyone other than I or a teacher knew about was when I was nine, and in primary school. We’d call it year 5 now. Every year, each class in my school put on a play for the parents. I landed lead roles in productions when I was in years 3 and 4, but I was more ambitious than that, or I wanted more control. I’m not sure I remember my motivation. Anyway… When I was in year 5, I wrote a play. It was the first thing of any consequence that I had written.
My year 5 teacher was young and lovely. He was my first ever male teacher, and he couldn’t have been out of college for very long. He was small and lean with fair hair and a beard… At least, that’s the way I remember him, and his name was Mr Tapley.
Mr Tapley read my play, and, in his wisdom, he decided that the class would perform it in the annual drama extravaganza. I don’t know how coherent my attempt at scriptwriting was, and I’m not sure whether the parents who saw our performance ‘got it’ or not. What I do know, is that Mr Tapley was a hero to put on the work of a nine year old child for public consumption, even if the public consisted of parents.
I’ve always written, but mostly prose fiction. I wrote another play in the mid-nineties, and, of course, there’s always the chance to write dialogue in any format, long fiction, short stories, comics… You name it.
My new project is my third play, and, like my juvenile first attempt, this, too, is destined for production and performance. I’m rather looking forward to it all.
The dort is studying drama at university, and she belongs to an extracurricular group that performs. The dort wanted to pitch to direct something for one of the theatre slots available to the group, and she wanted to have a lot of input into the work. The dort pitched some ideas, and won that slot. Now, it’s down to me to produce a script for her.
It’s been lovely talking about the project, exchanging ideas and building character profiles. The dort has had a lot of input, and now it’s simply time for me to write something.
I’m a writer, and I don’t write for free.
I am making an exception for the dort, partly because she asked me too, but partly because the opportunity to collaborate with her talent, and the chance to sit-in on rehearsals, are just too cool.
|The dort in some of her myriad guises|
Writing is my work, not my hobby, but there’s enough pleasure in this project, and enough new experiences to make this one very well worth doing. Sometimes you just have to give something back.