I love this title because it indicates conflict between society and independent authors.
Authors are notoriously underpaid, and I'm not saying that because I think they're entitled to more. I'm saying that because for a writer to completely immerse themselves in their art and produce a publishable work that can sustain them during their writing time, they need to make a certain amount of money per copy sold. It's a cost-of-living issue. It's that simple. This is why becoming a full-time writer is challenging because the budding writer has to earn money on the side to fund their time writing, which takes away from their time and energy to write. The way I've adapted myself to this conundrum is what I determine "time off." I refer to my life-funding night job as my "time off," and my writing time as my "work time", which indicates becoming a writer in modern America is fundamentally more challenging than other vocations, because independent authorship (which excludes journalism, magazines, or newspapers) is more the tortoise than the hare.
Should aspiring writers somehow be paid in the chrysalis phase? I'm not so sure they should. I see no reason why others should dig into their pockets and spend their own hard-earned money to fund a task that some unproven, no-name has undertaken. It's not just the risk involved, it's also what it would do to the economic system. It would require an all new paradigm of checks and balances involving risk and return on investment, which I think would fail because surveillance and regulation would be instituted. Plus, authorship is about delving into ourselves and venturing through the sacrifice, depravity, and change that it forces upon us. So while I don't really think anyone is seriously interested in officially subsidizing budding writers on a large scale, I think it's fair to point out that even asking (the often perilous) should question is not the place we want to be.
So where do we want to be? Following my last post; artists shouldn't get special social treatment in the form of social exceptionalism. Just because someone goes to school for business and gets a formulaic degree that earns them 100,000$ annually right out of college, doesn't mean the Creative Writing graduate should make comparable money before they actually publish. Each vocation has it's own set of terms which the individual willingly chooses. In Kristhoffer's words: "That's just reality. Don't be mad at the giraffe for having a long neck."
I am, however, a proponent of an economic system that allows writers to survive in some way. (This is a simple statement that sounds so obvious it sounds stupid, but it deserves outright statement because good writers are so very often marginalized or dismissed outright). Remember, a writer is one who creates art based on their own vision and volition, not one who is simply a "mouthpiece of the [totalitarian] regime, to the destruction of his creative powers as well as his honesty." (p. 662) Writers (and artists in general, I'm not being exclusive) need freedom for their imaginations to flourish. Economics are not a requirement, as many writers have survived poor, however, economics helps writers focus on their work and not just food. Henry Miller's protagonist in Tropic of Cancer is a writer who often can't write because the symphony in his stomach is louder than this own thoughts. So I agree with Orwell that books should be priced accordingly, allowing writers to survive so they can continue to write, but want to append that audiences identify most with gritty, realistic writing, which is produced through the writer receiving solely what he/she earned, and as few entitlements as possible. Let me point out that writers feel the benefit of entitlements as much as anyone else, but the glitz and glam of entitlements will never be on par with the experience of channeling powerful artistry.
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