My writing friend sent me an article from the South African Sunday Times. It's an article in which they ask South African writer Michiel Heyns, author of the much acclaimed Bodies Politic, what he would be if he weren't a writer.
In the article, he certainly takes the magic out of this writing life we live. He talks about rushing to get to a reading where he find 15 people, 2 or 3 at best have read his novel he's there to discuss. He is thanked by the organiser, who also has not read the book, and is given R250 as compensation. He goes to lunch which costs R480 and drives home covering a distance in total of 147 km. There he finds an urgent request from the Sunday Times to write the very article I was sent and he's told there will be little time as the deadline looms and no compensation. In the end, he comes to the conclusion - " What I would be if I weren't a writer is somebody who got paid." My friend highlighted that bit since when she put it in the post I was being frantic about not being paid and she thought I'd find it very applicable. It arrived on the day a big sum of money arrived like magic in my account and all of my money worries disappeared (for now) ... but still. I think most of us can relate to Mr. Heyns' frustrations.
I wonder- do we allow people to treat us like this? Is this why people think they can waste our time having us speak to non-readers about our books knowing they'll not buy them? Why do we write for free? What if we put our collective foot down and said, "No more." Would things change? What do you think?