I should spend more time talking about and linking to Mark Evanier‘s series on rejection. However, in the meantime, in light of my post on Monday, I figured I’d list Part 7 of his Rejection series which covers low and no pay writing.
One standout quote: “Working cheap or for free occasionally leads to getting paid decently but more often, it leads nowhere… or to more offers to work for little or no money.”
At the same time, I really like what he gets into in the second part of the post: about how peers can influence your decisions.
I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I was in grade school. Naturally, as with anyone who’s ever wanted to do anything creative, I wanted my work to be breathtakingly original, if not all-out genre re-defining. And of course, I didn’t want to “sell out,” whatever that might be.
We can talk more about “being original” at another point in time, but through my later teens, I came to a much better understanding of what “selling out” meant. Simply put: “selling out” in most cases is a meaningless phrase others will foist on you, much like Eugene did in this case.
This isn’t to say you might not sell your soul. You may use your creative powers for evil, not good. There’s a lot of corporations out there that don’t share your values and scruples — and even if what they’re asking you to do isn’t criminal, it doesn’t feel right. The trick is that outside of actual criminal activity, you not the Eugenes of the world, get to define where that line is. You cross that line, you are selling out. Once you stop to examine what peers are advocating, you’ll see their lines are, almost to a fault, very different, even if they’re on your side. If they’re folks like Eugene, who want to hold you to a line to which they themselves don’t want to be held, run.