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ON WRITING & THE WRITER’S STRIKE
I am a writer, but I do not make money from it, I don’t know that I ever will, I would like to, love to actually, someday… Pisces and their pipe dreams eh! But the money is not the reason I write, I write simply because I love it and I am meant to be a writer. I’ve self-published two shortish stories on Kindle and write advent and summer short stories on my blog. My grandmother was a writer and an incredible storyteller, all my stories come from her. My ability to conjure up worlds and narrative come from her. They say talent skips a generation, in my case it rings true because my dad, her son, did not have a creative bone in his body but could host a party like no other… I inherited that gene too, but writing, it’s for real my happy and comfort place. I am introverted by nature, deeply introverted, hence can often times ensconce myself in a world within my head, it is my therapy and my safe space.
I say all this to say, the current writer strike is concerning, the current situation in publishing, print especially, is scary because how in all good conscience can anyone be advised to become a writer with the current situation? The shutdown of many pivotal books that set a new course for their respective industries. Hundreds of jobs gone just like that for one reason or another; too niche, too slow, lack of advertising because brands are working more and more with influencers and celebrities, which is a good thing. Listen, I am not one of those people who ardently hates social media, I appreciate it and the democratisation of content. Brands can choose the immediacy of an influencer’s devout audience as opposed to the rota system of magazines. Social media has elevated various industries so much so, if you refuse to evolve, you die. See Bed Bath and Beyond for reference, a brand that relied solely on its repertoire as a cache, refusing to embrace the full potential of ecommerce. In a post pandemic world? A bad gamble. Some will say social media killed everything, but it is not that simple. Social media is the double edged sword; it provides a new challenge and avenues in which to grow and explore, and a new playing field and competition. It also is a cesspit of madness; you take what you can and leave the rest behind. When brands refuse to evolve, they die an eventual and sad death. Where was I going with all this? Ah the writer strike and writing; creativity is kind of on its last legs and it’s not for lack of talent because there are phenomenal writers out there, but there is a lackadaisical attitude towards it that has become all too common in any industry, a lack of investment, not enough emphasis is placed on the arts as there are on the sciences and maths, it has become such a capricious industry slowly being killed off and it is to all our detriments.
We too are at fault. Remember Blockbuster and then came Netflix which has upended the entirety of the entertainment industry. Remember Amazon and the price wars of books and then came the kindle and that aptly decimated the earning power of authors because Amazon is still the largest online bookseller and incredibly accessible to the immediacy of our human nature. The issue at hand is that we no longer care as much about human touch and human stories, we have become inured to it. The rapidity of tech has seen an increased rise in immediacy that has meant smaller, more independent companies lose out to retail giants like Amazon. And when it comes to Amazon, the sales of paperback has suffered when within minutes, sixty seconds in most cases you can download a novel to your kindle as opposed to wait to receive it in the mail. As I said, the double-edged sword of modern conveniences. Don’t even get me started on AI.
For context, in the height of the pandemic, when the world turned inward, we turned to the arts, to writers and their words, it is no wonder sales of books skyrocketed because we needed a mode of escape and words and built worlds gave us that. Writers lifted us in a way nothing else could and I for one would be forever grateful for that. Without writers, there would be no Brian Cox delivering the perfect “fuck off” no “nobody puts baby in the corner” (as an aside, I have never seen that movie but based on this line alone, I desperately want to see it), there will be no Sound of Music with the most beautiful and romantic scene in cinematic history during the Ländler when Maria comes from behind the Captain with her hand softly over his shoulder, somebody wrote the instructive words that conveyed the heft of that scene and the actors else executed it. There will be no “frankly my dear I just don’t give a damn.” Writers give us points of memory and a plethora of emotions in one scene, with one word, one look, one phrase… because of writers, actors can, thus Hollywood exists. And it is not the heads of studios that earn astronomical amounts of money, it is the words that make their way around the table in various writers rooms in the industry to land a blockbuster.
Without words there would no point to much of it.
One of the more heartening things from following so many writers and writing influencers and book bloggers on social media is seeing the comradery between writers there is a friendship and an advocacy there. Because they would know what it takes to be a writer, to be in the doldrums of the beginning phase of a book trying to pull out something fantastical for an anticipatory audience waiting and possibly more, is the reaction of the audience especially, oh especially, in the romance community of which I am card carrying member, it matters, all of it matters because at the end of the day, Love is really what makes the world go round, it is where it’s at whether it’s in friends to lovers or marriage of convenience… the romance community is this band of utter nutters who would ride for their beloved author why? Because of the world of words that they have given us that has taken us away from the moments of doom to worlds where all can be as we need it to be. Writers do that, all of that.
So, pay writers a fair wage they do much more than we give them credit for.