Wednesday, February 8, 2012

It's the Amateurs Who Make it Tough for Professionals

My dear pal Sophie always knows the right thing to say. She always has the right thing ready for you. Here is an excellent example. Yesterday, she sent me this Harlan Ellison gem from the film "Dreams With Sharp Teeth" and it warmed the little part of my heart reserved especially for ranting. If you've known me long enough, I'm sure you've experienced a moment-- probably, I was a passenger in your car-- where I went on some joke-filled, yet utterly serious rant along these same lines. 

And while the issue is-- always, inevitably-- more nuanced than any three minute rant could do justice to, and I've been in many situations myself where I felt the only option was to give my skills away for free, I have to say I agree with Harlan wholeheartedly. It's a bind I wish fewer art-type folks were in, less often. But I keep going back to his statement, "it's the amateurs who make it tough for the professionals." So the amateurs write the thing, the thing is not well done, and then-- since this amateur work isn't blowing anyone away-- as a society, we think writers aren't vital. They aren't essential. It's a bad cycle. 

As a side note, I don't know that I'd ever hope to see this in, say, my own Wikipedia entry, but you've got to hand it to a guy who can get a whole section of his bio labeled "Controversies, Temperment" devoted to his reputation for being abrasive and argumentative. Or, OR! having the balls to put on your own dust jacket, "possibly the most contentious person on Earth."

In any case, he raises some serious issues. Ones we should be talking about all the time. I'm glad things like exist, even if I don't always agree with everything. I do agree with the fundamental though: PAY THE WRITER!

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