Writing for free was always my favorite thing to do. If my mother is to be believed, I started when I was three, tapping out stories on my father's old Underwood. (Unsurprisingly, no copies survive.) At age eight, I began a novel that I never finished. There followed poems, short stories, plays, films, on and on, until my mid-thirties when I got my first job in television, and began the life of a paid writer. Though more lucrative, that wasn't nearly as much fun. There was always someone - a host of someones - making "suggestions" (often conflicting suggestions), insisting on this change or that to my work, telling me how to make it better, which occasionally turned out to be so, but often made it worse, or only made it different, made it the way they would have written it - if only they could write.
In those years, my greatest wish was to escape all that, and once again write for free; and, as soon as I had enough money saved to stake me, I (albeit temporarily) said goodbye to Hollywood, went to London, and wrote my first novel. I did more or less the same with my second, and with my third. I never looked for an advance. I never wanted one. For one thing, to get money I would have had to tell my idea, and in each case at that early stage I felt it was too fragile to share.
I've never been happier than when I was writing those books. When finished, the first two found publishers within weeks. My third was not so lucky, and eventually I self-published it. That, too, was a joy. I loved having total control over the process.
Far from a problem, not getting paid to write has always been for me, with all its difficulties, liberating. But being asked to write for free, even when free is the going rate, by people who expect to profit from my work, that's another thing entirely. That's exploitation. And that seems to be the current fate of writers on the internet.
But if we all said no to that, what would happen do you suppose? Would those myriad web pages remain blank? I don't think so. I'm hardly an expert in these matters but, since this is an overwhelmingly capitalist world we live in, hasn't some smart entrepreneur, somewhere, already figured out how pay for content and still make money? And if not yet, then surely soon, with a little incentive.
Causes Camille Marchetta Supports
The Alzheimer's Association
The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation
Doctors Without Borders
Save the Children