Sunday, January 10, 2010

On self-respect

Christina Katz, a writing teacher I've worked with in the past, has a great e-zine entitled "The Prosperous Writer". Her writing prompt for the week is:
On a scale of one to ten, how's your self-respect? Can you say no? Do you say yes to yield to social pressure and supposed-tos and then suffer for it? Are you catering to too many other people's needs but burning out in the process? Do you listen to and trust your instincts about what is and isn't the best way to proceed?
I have blogged previously and informally about this topic elsewhere, but with apologies for the repetition, here goes my 2010 manifesto: "I'd rather not work than work for free."

It takes a lot for me to write this, since it's considered uncouth by some to discuss money. Jewish tradition requires balancing self-respect with humility, and I humbly put forward that I must consider myself a professional in a number of spheres. By taking my work seriously, I have found a full-time job I love and developed many ancillary passions (of which one is my writing.)

There are things in life that are meant to be free. Family, friendships, and community all come to mind. I am, however, a professional teacher and writer. As a professional, I owe it to myself to demand compensation for my work. The self-respect I have requires it. The money I earn writing enables me to do things like take writing classes, purchase writing resources and invest in my future. On the same note, I refuse to call myself a beginner. A cursory look at the hundreds of pieces I've published over time confirms that assertion. I don't write just to see my name in print, and I am way beyond the stage where I am writing just to get the experience. Thus, I am declaring my refusal to write for free to be my manifesto for 2010 - because self-respect means only writing for publications who respect me.


*Like all rules, this one has a single, notable exception. The academic world does not pay writers, who contribute articles to journals strictly for academic advancement purposes. When I write for journals, I am investing in my (potential) eventual ability to get into a doctoral program.



At 11:27 p.m., Blogger Christina Katz said...

Way to go, Aliza. Thanks for responding. I'm shocked that the academic world doesn't compensate writers. Is this always the case? Is this where the saying, "Publish or perish," comes from? Or do they mean, "Publish and perish anyway..." ;)


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