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this is how i know my friends are smarter than i am

a little while back, i got an encouraging-sounding email from a client i did some writing for a couple of years back, asking if i'd be interested in doing some more work for them, along the same lines, but with a broader range of subjects to work from. it sounded pretty good, up until the point about how there wasn't the budget to be able to pay me this time.

among other things, the email got sort of swept up in the inferno of unbacked-up os reinstallation i went through and so i was never able to respond, but the fact is it sat like a moist blob of leftover food on the humid plate of my inbox for a few days before the great catastrophe, i just hadn't figured out what i wanted to say in response.

i mean, it seemed sort of ridiculous to offer to do something for free that i'd previously done for pay, and it didn't exactly bolster my self-esteem to think that my work was so incredible they thought i should do it for nothing. on the other hand, i do kind of like the idea that a google search of "kate macdonald writer" or "kate macdonald author" might turn up something related to me. and, in fact, i was still weighing the pros and cons in my mind and wondering if i could track down the email once i did figure out what i wanted to say, which would probably end up being longer than any of the pieces they were asking me to write in the first place.

and then martin posted this on my facebook wall.

now, martin didn't know about the existential hell i'd been going through vis-a-vis this email, he just figured it was something i should read. probably because he knows i am one of those writers described in the article who's a bit of a wuss and can be lead to believe that having something published is about the best i can expect in the cutthroat competitive world of writing. or possibly he just thought it was good advice for writers in general. but he wouldn't have been wrong about the wuss bit.

i don't agree with the black and white vision of the article. there are people and organisations i genuinely want to help regardless of whether or not they can afford it and those people generally help me if and when they can. and sometimes you do want to do something because it would be fun or challenging in a way that was its own form of compensation. but there is a clear logical disconnect in thinking that doing something for free for a profit-driven company will encourage them to start paying you for the same work. no matter how down on myself i felt, i would be leery of any employer who suggested i do a full-time job as a volunteer for a few months in the hopes that they would eventually decide that my work was worth paying for.

however obvious it is, though, i hadn't managed to notice it in the days of mental hand-wringing [brain-wringing?] i'd engaged in. lucky i have friends to occasionally point out the cliffs i'm about to stroll off while i'm exercising that big brain.

besides, why should i jump at the opportunity to write on a fairly broad range of topics in a way that i enjoy for no money? isn't that what i have this place for???


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