I’ve only published 2 short stories in print and received nothing but a small cash prize for one of them. Not payment as such. Being a paid writer is something I aspire to. To be paid one day for the work I write would allow me to have the focussed writing life I’ve long desired, a chance to tell stories, explore ideas and develop my craft. But the market likelihood of this ever happening seems to lessen year by year by the corrosion of creative copyright laws and a digitally minded society with generations who increasingly resent paying for anything.
This somewhat disheartening but realistic survey of the state of things for writers wishing to write for a living summarizes the problems anyone considering writing as a profession, rather than writing for a hobby. Not that I’m disparaging the values of writing as a hobby – there are many – but rather a situation surrounding creative copyright that would have us all content providers but not a one getting paid. Technology disseminates, enables and living it with is inevitable but if the only people who make any money are the handful who run the digital distribution platforms, the content providers – designers, filmmakers, musicians, writers must look elsewhere for an income. A situation that might well result in a era of bust for independent authorship, free voice or original thinking. It will certainly mean a lean time of belt tightening for anyone desiring an old fashioned life of letters. The challenge for writers is to find ways of reinventing this notion of a committed and serious life of words while staying true to its heart and purpose and the personal and creative integrity that that entails.