It used to be that I didn’t care a whit about getting paid for my work. Yes, I wanted to get paid for working, but I’d give out Work with that all important capitol with no concern whatsoever. Now, I find myself somewhat more concerned about getting paid like a muthafucka, as the parlance puts it. Then, a couple days ago, my wife mentioned this change to me and it got me thinking.
It isn’t like the occasional $20-$50 makes any real difference in my life. Hell, most of the time I end up spending it all on copies for myself and family. Then there is the poetry, which can possibly net me the amazing pro rate of $5. That doesn’t even buy two gallons of gas or a meal at Wendy’s. Given the time it takes to create the Work, including both the initial writing and subsequent editing, the pay boils down to pennies per hour. I might as well not be getting paid at all.
And it isn’t like I am determined to build up a professional record for my grand writing career. I write poetry and short stories at a time when no one buys anything but novels. This shit will never be a lifestyle for me.
I think it has something to do with how seriously the publisher takes the Work they publish. By handing over money, they show that they are invested. That they care. No one is going to give you their hard earned cash unless they believe in the quality of what they are purchasing. Even $5 a poem can add up pretty damn fast when you fit 50+ poems in an anthology. That means that my work will be placed in proximity to other quality works, which means that it will be more likely to reach an audience that cares about quality.
It also makes it harder. It isn’t tough to get into some free webzine with a 60% acceptance rate, so the acceptance doesn’t mean anything. It‘s the equivalent of getting a medal for participation. Once you see that the guy who trips over his own feet and can’t catch a ball to save his life got one, it ceases to matter.
However, striving to break into those tough to crack markets means that I have to improve. I have to be sure that I am writing the best possible stories or poems I can. I have to be leaner, meaner, more confident and affecting. I can’t slip.
I will likely never get into Apex, with their .5% acceptance rate, but my determination to try makes me better. That is what matters most. After all, the creation of word art may just be a hobby but it s one I take seriously. I want the work to be the best it can be. I want the stories that boil in my head expressed in the most powerful manner I am capable of.
Otherwise, there is no point in doing it at all.