I passed by, looked in, decided not today. The Job Centre was busy, I was wet and getting even wetter since it was still pouring down with rain. I was also in a black mood made worse by the arrival of my twice yearly statement from the publishers. It was a bad day for it to arrive, as though some great force was determined to end this grim charade.
I didn’t expect any surprises from the statement, though I’d actually sold more copies of my book than I’d expected. Not enough to make a difference but enough for people close to me to choose this moment to remind me of dark truths.
‘Makes you wonder why you bother,’ was a hint of what was to come.
‘Makes you wonder if it’s worth it,’ was the second push of the very sharp blade.
Each successive jab gets closer to the heart of the matter.
‘It’s like expecting to win the lottery,’ was the first hint of the true theme of these conversations.
We all want to make money from what we love to do but it’s the job of relatives to inform you that you should make money at the expense of what you love to do. It's a great leveler, a way of saying that all you've achieved amounts to naught. When people throw these accusations around, I can never decide if it’s a kind of clear-eyed honesty or a twisted delight in exposing raw nerves and inflicting pain. And the pain is real and very deep.
The bitch awful truth is that it is difficult to make money from creative labours. I’d already sketched out this argument earlier today in a post I’d originally labelled ‘Sunlight’ because I was feeling brighter and better. The arrival of the post and my relative’s badgering turned that around and made a good day very bad.
However, I have made strides following Leg-Iron’s advice. I’ve written about an IT Web Administrator position. Chances of my landing it are slim but we’ll see. There’s also something else I’d spotted on Gumtree. I was intending to send a CV until I just realised it was three months unpaid work as a web designer. Yes, that’s right. Unpaid but with the chance of a job after that… I might be a fool but I wasn't born yesterday. A shame it wasn't even a little bit of money. The irony is that I live the most frugal life I can possibly lead in order to do what I do. I’m not looking for a fortune. Just enough to live on. That I can’t even make that is probably a terrible indictment of my talent or my ability to promote myself or possibly a mixture of the two.
There’s a Ralph Steadman documentary due in cinema sat some point this year and I was watching an interview with the great man on Youtube where he said that all his books have eventually been remaindered. That’s sobering in the sense that if there’s no market for Steadman’s work, then there can’t be such a market for anybody’s work. It’s another facet to the internet culture where jokes, cartoons, and funny graphics have become a currency without value. Everybody trades them but nobody ever seems to pay.
Take for instance, the last strip I drew. I spent five or six hours working on Sparks Episode 4 which I now see posted on a number of accounts across Tumblr. Now what is that cartoon worth? The minimum wage is £6.19 so you might say that strip is worth at least £30.95 for five hours work. Hell, I think I’d be delighted to have earned that much. As it is, I earn nothing whilst the owners of Tumblr wrap their advertising around my content.
This is the problem for all creative people working these days. We work for nothing hoping that somebody somewhere will spot out work and say ‘I want to pay for that’. Yet it rarely happens.
So, that’s where I am now. Deeply funked and not sure what to do other than send off my CV to anything that looks promising. To add insult to injury, web traffic has completely dried up. This is possibly going to be the slowest day I’ve known in months. That divine force is trying desperately hard to send me a message and, unfortunately, I am listening.