Here’s why I’m on about this: I’ve been interviewing for part time jobs lately. Mostly small magazine stuff. I have plenty of experience, and I’m just looking for a non-taxing thing to put a little extra money in my pocket while I ride out my scholarship. So all in all, I’m not worried about finding something, somewhere. Ideally, something that doesn’t pay sad peanuts.
Now, onto specifics: Early last week, I had an interview that went fairly well. That said, even if they offer me the job, I’m not going to take it because the pay is just too little. Going in, I hadn’t realized, but now that I know what they’re offering, I’m just not into it.
Don’t get me wrong, sad pay in writing isn’t something that surprises me. The industry is like this. The general consensus among people on the inside seems to be that dues must be paid. There’s no a HUGE amount of money to go around (ha-ha, yeah right) and therefore, the “young”, who should be thanking their lucky stars to have found jobs at all, must work for free, for years in some cases, until deemed experienced enough to make chump change. Way down the line, when our hair is grey and we’ve taken to wearing draw-string pants and glasses on a beaded chain, maybe things will be different, but for now… forgetaboutit. And we do. Because that’s the way it is. And there’s always going to be someone younger and with less pride, riding on Daddy’s dime and living at home rent-free who will be willing to those things we refuse. It’s a cycle. It’s bullshit and it’s wrong, but there it is.
I’m not allowed to complain about this. Trust me, people don’t get it.
Here, a little history: My first major story (in a reputable, widely distributed publication) came out in October of 2000. Let’s round up and call that seven years ago. Seven years isn’t nothing. Yet people seem to think I’m just starting out. And by people, I mean my parents, for one. Or two, rather.
When I explained to my mother that I wasn’t much interested in the job with the crap pay, she was obviously confused. The implication being, of course, that I should be GRATEFUL to have a job at all (especially considering that I don’t do “real” work). I quoted the dismal hourly rate to her and she replied, predictably, “That’s a lot!” I responded that it was less than cashiers, bus drivers and jr. administrative assistants made, but that didn’t seem to make much of a dent in her thinking.
Whatever. My mother is crazy. And in the end, it’s her worry about me, her fear that I’m stupid about money (which I’m not) that makes her like this. That’s fine.
But then, today… TODAY I became more annoyed about the issue when, after speaking to my mother, my father joined in by calling me up to reiterate that I’d be stupid to turn my nose up at the low-paying gig. In case you missed it the first time, I’ll remind you that the implication of this is that I should be grateful, that I should consider myself lucky, and that, of course, I shouldn’t get too big for my britches. (I get it, you two. Okay? I get it.) After all, as Pops pointed out, cashiers and truckers might make more than the amount quoted, but then again, they had to work their way up to that.
Remember the years I’ve been working? Quoted above? Remember those? Did I imagine them, or what?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think cashiers and bus drivers and administrative assistants are great. They do hard jobs for very little money, and that isn’t cool. I’ve been there. But I also think, what does that have to do with me NOW? I went to University, okay? (A good one!) I’ve been working full time for more than five years and writing and editing professionally for more than that. So why, WHY does everyone seems to think that if only they chose to, if only they deigned to pick up a pen or sit down at a keyboard, they could do exactly what I do, only better. That’s the thing that bothers me MOST. The idea that writing and editing aren’t skills. That they’re talents (and not a particularly special ones, since anyone could develop them if only they bothered. Or rather, if only they’d been as lucky as me, and not been forced to “grow up” and get real jobs in the real world).
I never know what to say in these situations, so I don’t say anything and then I get mad, like I am now.
I AM grateful, okay? I am. But I’m not lucky. None of this has been luck. It’s been work. The things I’ve received haven’t just fallen into my lap. I went out and got them. I worked for them and won them. So how many boots am I going to have to lick, exactly, before I’m worth something?
I’m just wondering.
Blogging about this is silly, I know. For one thing, I shouldn’t be fussed about it. I mean, who cares, right? It’s not going to change anything. And worse, blogging about it is only going to make my ridiculous parents mad, which will only make my life more difficult. So I should just quit right not and not post this, I know. Except I’m going to. Because I know I’m write and I know that at least a couple of you guys – you people I don’t really know, in other countries and other jobs – are going to email me about this and agree with me and make me feel better. And that will be nice. I know I’m right, but it will be nice to know that other people think so too. So I’m looking forward to that. Don’t let me down.
Oh, and before I forget, if by chance you disagree with me or have something negative to say, or don’t like it or whatnot, then you can just … well, fuck off and die, basically.