Editor’s Note: Kathy Parker is a Fictional Café member, poet and Instagram All-Star. She wrote this piece about her work in the writing field on her blog. We loved her honesty, courage and hope she inspires to fellow creative folks so much, we asked if she would share it with our community. We hope you enjoy her piece.
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Creativity Matters: Jumping Without A Parachute
With the year still fresh and shiny I’ve been thinking lately about my goals and direction for the coming 12 months.
After much thought, I have decided I will no longer continue to write for Elephant Journal.
While having that kind of exposure can be of benefit, I can simply no longer advocate an organisation who do not pay their writers, yet still demand exclusive ownership and rights of their articles. Many other journals/websites have asked permission to republish my articles and I have not been able to allow them this, as I no longer own the rights to my own work. The ones who *have* published my articles unknowingly, have been threatened with legal action if the article is not removed in 24 hours. And so while I continue to receive no payment for my articles, I can no longer support an organisation who essentially don’t support me in allowing me the rights to my own work.
This is not about financial gratification for work submitted (because that is an entire subject within itself) but rather about the issue of writers being exploited to increase the platform of another at the detriment of their own career. Essentially, it is about writers being treated with fairness and not being taken advantage of for the sake of exposure.
Also, I have decided to step down from my HuffPost platform. This is partly due to feeling they do not have the best interests of their writers at heart, and partly because I feel my writing has evolved and changed and no longer suits their audience.
These decisions have not come easily, but after some soul searching have realised my only reason for holding onto both of these platforms is simply: vanity, pride and ego. The belief that to have ‘Huffpost’ attached to my byline means I am taken more seriously as a writer. It means I sound more important, and therefore *must* be more important, and obviously a far better writer because of it. Except, when something no longer sits well within your heart, you know it is no longer the right thing to do. It’s about being authentic to your values, your beliefs, and your truest self.
So from here I have decided jump without a parachute and write primarily for myself, and will only consider my work for publication in places I feel align with my values and have the best interest of their writers at heart. This will mostly mean I will still receive no payment for my articles, but will retain the ownership and rights to my own work.
I feel encouraged and supported by you all, and feel I have enough of my own readership now, and I’m excited at investing my time and energy into building my own career, not someone else’s.
The writing industry is no easy feat. Most of what is published is unpaid. The work that does get paid is rarely more than $20-$50 per article, and that is after you jump through endless hoops to get that work published. It is competitive and cut-throat, mostly tainted with hard work and rejection. It is constant self-promotion in the hope your voice will somehow be heard amidst the shouts of hundreds of thousands of others all trying to be heard too. It is having to pay money just for Facebook posts to show up in your news feed. It is hours of unseen work, of self-doubt and perseverance and fighting the constant voice in your head that tells you to get a *real* job and stop wasting your time at something that doesn’t even matter.
Except, it does matter. Creativity matters. Art matters. Beauty matters.
“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” ~ Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society.
Support those who create. Not just writers, but all artists. Follow their social media accounts. Like their work, share their work, encourage them in their work. Subscribe to their blogs, share their website with a friend. These are people who are creating art to bring beauty to this world, to bring healing, to bring joy and light and to make us stop and think and feel. Usually at the sacrifice of income, sleep, time with their family, and often their sanity. We need the poets and the painters and the music makers and the sculptors and all the artists between. Don’t let the small voices who are struggling to be heard lose heart and fall by the wayside. Give them your love and support, they need it.
From my heart to yours ❤
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Survivor. Warrior. Word Alchemist.
Freelance writer. Contributor for The Mighty, Thought Catalog and The Minds Journal.
Work also published at HuffPost, Elephant Journal, The Motherish and Sydney Morning Herald. Debut novel in progress. Married to a farmer in the Limestone Coast of South Australia, mother to four astonishing children.
You can find Kathy at her website, This Girl Unraveled, Facebook and Twitter