Monday, September 25, 2023

Picking Up the Pen Again

 I have been following the WGA Strike for 146 days.

I have also been following the SAG-AFTRA, AMPTP, Teamsters, UAW, and honestly, every other group of creators, creatives, and collaborators who made this country work. 

Never in my lifetime have I seen all these different industries realizing there is more power together, if they stand united, than there is in an individual negotiation for pennies.

When I was in California, I desperately tried to find the SAG-AFTRA strike so I could be in solidarity in person, but I ended up at the wrong location. So I have been following from across the country.

The same for the writers, I put down some major writing projects including my muse/book project and  my book reviews on Tayé Foster Bradshaw's Bookshelf.  If they couldn't write, produce, and earn a living from their craft, why should I? And it has been agonizing! 

Now, to be fair and transparent, I am no where in their league.

No one is paying me to sit in a room with other creative minds and bounce ideas off each other to create an audience-grabbing series or drama. I highly doubt Chat gPT or other AI is trying to pilfer my work the way they are the noted published authors who are currently suing ChatGPT for copyright infringement.

For me, this is still budding.

Yes, I have some pieces published and yes, I've been at this a very long time, but no, I don't make a living from my words. Most writers, actors, and creatives have other gigs, they have to, because the process of imagining from nothing - something, is not valued.

To also be transparent and fair, I'm not in the Writers' Guild of America.

Again, I never considered myself on their level. I'm not a novelist and have never considered myself that creative to write a world and have people read it. I'm not a scriptwriter or screenwriter, so didn't consider myself writing worthy enough to join the guild.

That is a bit of policing myself and some of the mom-life chatter I have been shifting through for the twenty years my life shifted from my corporate imaginations (and huge paychecks!) to being "oh, she is just his wife" as if I checked my brain at the door when I stepped into scheduled-around-their-life kind of work. It was in that, though, that I found my writing again, beyond some poetry projects I'd done in the past, I picked it up almost full-time from 2008. 

Yet, I never put myself in the same league as the writers on strike, so when all this came about 146 days ago, it brought up some questions for me and considerations of this craft.

Craft is a lifetime.

I don't have an MFA or an MA in English (wish I did). I have an M.Div, and an MBA and in those spaces, did a lot of non-fiction writing. Not the stuff of gripping TV.

Yet, it is craft.

A craft that is worth her respect and honestly, pay.

Nothing happens without the writers.

That realization recently surfaced again when I was overhearing my husband with his speechwriter who is still figuring out my husband's "voice." He is in the category of professionals who have a team to pull together his vision and words. 

So, nothing happens without the writers.

And that is the point.

Writers are in every field, making sense of the world, and crafting it in a way for you to understand.

That is the consistent message that came out of the writers' strike and the actors' strike.

This is not "easy" and "just anyone can do it" so "why pay them a decent, fair, and equitable salary - kind of work.

We are pouring out parts of ourselves every time we pick up a pen or tap the keys.

Sure, Instagram and all the instantlyfamousinfluencerswhoarealwayssellingsomething makes it look like that process and planning, education and honing a craft are worthless these days. Why take the time to read and read and study when a camera with backlighting is all you need to be seen?

What the guild was advocating, in my opinion, was something other than a capitalist structure that takes from the many to reward the few; that steals others' work for profit; that bullies people into silence; that values compliance; that prefers to break people for the sake of power. What they were advocating was a just, right, and fair world.

We are in some challenging times.

All the "powers that be" are desperately fighting to maintain their stranglehold, realizing what they have always known - that people power is a far greater force. 

I am happy for my writing siblings across this country. They say the deal reached was exceptional. 

Pick up the pen, my friends, and create the world as you want it to be.


©2023. All Rights Reserved. Putting on my comfy sweater, grabbing a latte, watching the sunrise in the Northeast, and imagining a world to be. 

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