They come from all over – requests from libraries, schools, community groups – asking for free presentations, workshops and readings from writers.
A number of years ago, when I was trying to explain that this was not something I could accommodate, I did suggest that if the teacher was willing to forgo her wage for teaching that day, I might be willing to donate my time, too.
Dead silence. Then a kind of choking noise… Laughter? Outrage? I never did find out as she hung up pretty quick.
But perhaps you get my point.
I work at my craft. I take time from other necessary activities in my life to put into my writing. I make an investment in space, equipment and supplies. I make part of my living from my writing, and all the activities relating to it.
And I no longer do it for free.
Libraries have budgets and can apply for grants. If schools value literacy, they should also value the writers who contribute to helping develop it in their students. We live in a society that – rightly or wrongly – shows the value of something by attaching a dollar value to it.
I have worked for free in the past for the right person, project or organization. I mentor other writers. I donate copies of my books. But I do maintain the right to say No.
Today I received the latest request. Sadly, this came via a writer who was also once the ED of a provincial writers’ organization. Who should know better.
I wonder if she understood when I said no. That this was something I could not do, ‘like many other children’s writers who cannot work for free.’
I wonder if next time the library needs its plumbing fixed, it will ask the tradesperson to do it for free.
Although I bet they DO have a budget for that!