Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009
New Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and warm

I have a lot to say today. For your convenience, I use subheadings.

My Response to the insulting segment which ran on Wednesday’s edition of CBS The Early Show.

Daniel Sieberg did a short segment on selling expertise online and making extra money in this economy. He interviewed a “freelance writer” for a portion, only Twinkie was no writer – she boasted about writing by the pool for $1-20/article and said she’s written 2200 articles. “Experts” don’t charge $1/article. They charge a sustainable fee because they’re experts and they’ve earned that right. She’s no pro and wanna-bes like her hurt us all. She’s never get out of the $1/article hole because SHE’S NOT WORTH IT. It has nothing to do with the economy. You get what you pay for. You pay Twinkie $1 – that’s all her work is worth, and it won’t grow your business. Unfortunately, potential employers see it on THE EARLY SHOW and figure it’s now the going rate.

It was disgustingly irresponsible of THE EARLY SHOW to use that as an example of a freelance writer. It was a slap in the face to all of us who’ve worked hard at our art and our craft and whose skills are worth the money. You’ve got thousands of writers who make a decent living – such as Peter Bowerman, Lori Widmer, et al. Why couldn’t Daniel Sieberg be bothered to track down and find someone legitimate?

Lori Widmer wrote about this yesterday. Her anger is directed at Twinkie for not demanding a living wage for work. Yeah, Twinkie’s an idiot. And she’s probably not worth more than $1/article. She can’t use those pieces as legitimate clips to vault into higher paying work. If she was serious about her work, she’d find a nonprofit about which she’s passionate, do some pro bono work for them, and gain a portfolio to launch her into Living Wage Land. But she’d rather churn out a high volume of articles for substandard pay, which means she’ll never get on top of her bills or work her way into a well-paid slot. She’s designated herself as “cheap labor”. She allows employers to undervalue a writer’s skill, talent, and time. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You get what you pay for.

Unfortunately, because Daniel Sieberg and THE EARLY SHOW featured her, they are telling potential employers that this is the going rate, which means we have to face that whenever we –legitimate freelancers – negotiate contracts. “But THE EARLY SHOW featured a writer who works for $1/article.” Go hire her, Cheapskate. See how much business she’ll generate for you. Nada. Because if she was any good, she’d charge market rate. You, Potential Client, will realize that the work is worthless, and come back to me to fix it. At my rate. My anger is more at Sieberg and his producer than at Twinkie, because they know better. Especially Daniel Sieberg, who’s not only interviewed Lori Widmer before, but was someone whose reporting I’d previously respected, and thought of as ‘one of us.”. This program legitimizes paying skilled writers below minimum wage, and I think it is Sieberg and THE EARLY SHOW who should be taken to task. By choosing someone like Twinkie to legitimize instead of taking the time to interview an actual EXPERT in the field, they’ve hurt us more than Twinkie ever could.

I attempted to contact Sieberg to discuss the segment with him. The only contact information I found was via Twitter, and, as of this morning, I have not received a response. I doubt I will.

Richard Price at BAM
Last night was quite a wonderful experience, with several parts to it. I left for the city around 2, and had one of those “New Yorkers are wonderful” experiences on train.

A man got on the train, and, once the train left the station, got very upset and agitated. He was mentally challenged and had trouble making himself understood, but we finally discerned he’d gotten on the wrong train. The conductor was lovely to him (there’s a surprise) and several people who were getting off at the next stop sorted out how to get him on a train headed back, who would wait with him until the train arrived, etc., etc. It was really terrific how invested half a car full of people became in this man’s welfare.

Got to the city, Had to climb over the set up of the film THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE, which was scheduled to do a night shoot around Grand Central. It looked like they planned to seal off several blocks, once the shoot got underway.

Walked across 44th St. to the Algonquin Hotel. Met my friend in the lobby, and we were soon joined by another friend I’d met on Twitter only two weeks ago. We sat and talked and downed traditional cocktails – Sidecars for my friend and I, a Hemingway for our new friend. It was great to meet her (a fellow writer). She was headed off to see EXIT THE KING, and we were headed to BAM.

We took the subway down to BAM – always an adventure to ride the subway at rush hour. Actually, it wasn’t as bad as it usually is – I wonder if it’s due to the high unemployment rate. We got seats almost immediately, which was a shock.

Once at BAM (which is a gorgeous and gorgeously restored building, the way), we picked up our tickets to the evening’s “Eat Drink and Be Literary Event” and stood in line. They rolled a little wine cart down the line and gave us a drink, which is a nice way to keep people happy when they’re waiting in line!

We were ushered up to the café, which was set up for dinner, and seated. A classical guitarist, originally from Sweden but currently studying at Julliard, played for us during dinner. He was very good. The food was wonderful: Garlic bread, delicate salad, antipasto, grilled vegetables, two kinds of pasta, fruit, and desert. We had a carafe of red wine AND a carafe of white wine on the table. After dinner, we had coffee. All wonderful, great staff, etc., etc. And my friend and I got the chance to catch up. We hadn’t actually seen each other since October.

Richard Price read from his novel LUSH LIFE, had a conversation with Aoibheann Sweeney, and then there was a Q&A. Price read well, and, in conversation, he’s both funny and passionate without being self-aggrandizing. What I like about his work is the moment-to-moment vividness of each paragraph. There’s an immediacy about it, a sense of being within it, rather than reading it on the page (or, in last night’s case, being read to). I also like that he’s serious and committed to his work, without taking himself too seriously.

I will think about his comments on how he approaches his work for a long time. It was a lovely evening.

Someone had spilled wine in the lobby, and I slipped as we left. Mostly, I felt like an idiot. It wasn’t until later I realized I wrenched my back. Yoga seems to have gotten most of the kinks out this morning, so we’ll see. We took a cab back to Manhattan. My friend dropped me off as the Astor Place subway station while she continued in the cab to the West Village. Because of the filming, I wanted to approach Grand Central from underground, rather than trying to figure out how to get around the film crew.

I was home at a reasonable hour and puttered for awhile, too wound up to go to bed. This morning, I’m sore and I’m hoarse. I’m not used to talking so much, and I’m not used to wearing shoes! 😉 Even at a lot of these on-site gigs I’ve been doing in CT lately, I can get away without wearing shoes!

Don’t get me wrong, I love cute shoes. I just like to actually BE barefoot.

The computer’s running poorly today so far. Fortunately, I have errands to run most of the day, so I can give it a rest. I’m going to finish up some deadlined work over the weekend, including the assignment for Confidential Job #1, I have some client work for next week, more errands/appointments, and I also plan to have some fun in the good weather.

I wrote about a third of ACT I of a new play yesterday, tentatively titled BLOOD SOUP. It’s flowing much more easily than FEMME FATALE. I may do another pass at FEMME FATALE this weekend as well.

Violet is angry with me for leaving yesterday. She didn’t speak to me when I got home last night and holds the grudge this morning. Cats! The other two don’t remember that I was gone, but Violet holds a grudge.

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