Monday, June 19, 2006

Media Consumption and Production 2

Last week, a friend of mine had a rough week. He had to go into the hospital to get monitored by the staff there. Suffice to say, he has some health and economic issues. He also works as a reporter.

I won't really get into too many more details than that except that he has worked hard to become a reporter and works hard as a reporter. He doesn't really get paid well, nor does he have a good nest egg to lay back on or even really a car to get around the small town in which he lives and reports about.

In a lot of ways, living day-to-day gives him a challenge that I, luckily, don't have to face, even now, unemployed and looking for work. Even if I run out of my personal nest egg, I don't necessarily have to fear, either. I may stress about my situation and may moan about not becoming a successful writer, but man, this guy lives the life of the struggling writer. . .even if he hasn't really strived to live beyond the day and write his two articles.

This guy hasn't been the only writer in history who has had struggle or even died for their loved profession. The authorities found Edgar Allen Poe in an alley, "cause of death unknown but attributable to alcohol, drugs, rabid cat bites, and other agents." Jack Kerouac died from internal hemorrhaging aggravated by alcoholism.

Sure, these two fellows deaths can be attributed to some kind of character flaw. Still. . .a lot of work goes into writing. My friend, the reporter, for instance, has had to put in a lot of work without necessarily the economics means to live adequately, so he ends up in the hospitals.

Freelance writers sound like they have something of a dream job. Consider the fact, however, that they need to pay for health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, dental insurance or self-insure for all these things. They would have a harder time getting personal liability insurance. They have to make sure they have enough money saved up by April 15 to pay their taxes. Taxes also makes a huge thing to consider throughout the year, figuring out what to deduct, keeping records for all that, actually filling out the forms and having the knowledge to do so or hire a tax professional to do it.

And that's just the hygiene/maintenance side of things.

Freelance writers also have to market themselves and their ideas. Even before doing that, they have to come up with their ideas, which requires the consumption of media and experience. Once they've got the idea, they need to present that idea to editors, who might or might not accept the idea, have some amount of researched substantian -- enough to show what you're talking about -- and present all that information in a good, digestible way.

Then upon acceptance, there's doing the research quickly enough to submit the story and negotiating the terms of the sale. Even after all that, the story may not get published and/or the writer won't really get great pay. And even better, that freelance writer needs to have three or four of these projects going at once, just about every week. They also need to keep churning out ideas and coming up with unique, interesting slant on the topic.

The freelance writer may not even get any money when they first start out, when they acquire writing samples. Those will eventually equate to money because it will demonstrate their skill, but it could take awhile before the freelance writer pays their due and makes good money. Until then, and even then, the freelance writer will end up working 5 to 7 days a week, 10 - 12 hours a week.

And somehow. . .somehow. . .these creative jobs, which do prove important to society on some level I will explore later, are considered glamourous jobs that make getting a paycheck for them difficult.

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