There's some thought among my instructors that if you get paid for writing, what you're doing is far less important than the books of poetry they are paying to have published. They write for art. I write for...(spit at my feet) money. They write for the appreciation of the word. I write for that horrible green stuff.
So, they've prostitutionalized what I do. (How's that for word art? I created that one myself!)
I've always got this in the back of my mind, especially since so much of my work is ghost writing. Already, I'm a secret -- like a cheap rendezvous. But, whenever I pay my bills, I smile and scoff at the instructors who insist we buy their books so they can get royalties or those who pay just so they can have a book.
But a potential client crossed the line the other day. And it brought the whole idea of prostitutionalization to a new level.
The number on caller ID said, "Blocked." My husband's job is in law enforcement. A lot of times calls from him or from former coworkers looking for him say "blocked," so I answered expecting to talk to a familiar voice.
Instead, the voice was New Yorkish. I watch TV. I know a New York accent when I hear it.
"Yes, I got your name from your resume online at Guru," he said. Guru.com is a great place to find work if you want to get started as a freelance writer.
"Do you write adult content?" he asked.
I immediately started laughing. Not only do I NOT write adult content, I can't even have a conversation about adult content. Not without using terms like "um, the booty's neighbor" or "you know, that." I finally two years ago forced myself to read a Harlequin romance novel. I was convinced if I ever read one, I could churn them out easily. What I didn't factor in was my modesty factor and embarrassment level.
But as I'm laughing at a stranger, I realize that this man may own an adult website, but he may also own the best parenting website in the world that I might love to work for. So I regroup and apologize and explain my embarrassment level.
I Seinfelded my response: "No, I don't write adult content...not that there's anything wrong with that." Then I tell him that I understand there is a market for his niche website, but I'm just not the writer he needs. That sounded diplomatic.
Then he whispers, "I don't have a website." He began talking faster, "This is just for me to live out my fantasy. You're the only one I've talked to today that hasn't hung up on me. I just want someone to write my story so I can relive my fantasy over and over, through literature."
Yay. With one blocked call, I've become a weirdo magnet. I laughed again and decided to make a move.
"Sir, may I ask you a personal question before you go on?"
"Are you married?"
"Yes, I am married."
"Do you love your wife?"
"Yes, I love my wife."
"Then I suggest you talk to her. She needs to be the only person you discuss this fantasy with. And before you hit her up to become part of something you've created in your mind ask yourself if it's worth risking losing the reality that you have. And if you choose the fantasy over reality, do your wife a favor and leave her so she can find a decent husband, one who will love her and cling to her alone, not some weird fetish you've got going."
Then I hung up.
I went to my Guru profile and reviewed it again and again. Finally I found the phrase that I think triggered the call. "I can put your thoughts into words and images." My intent was to promote my writing and graphic design skills. Ooops.
Anyway, the call proved to me that I'm not a word prostitute. Earning a living and selling out are two very different things.