This blog is shorter today than it would have been if you’d read it yesterday. It’s not my fault, really it’s not. I’d love to rattle on all day about nonsense, and if I lived in a land where gratitude and goodwill bought me chocolate and wine then I probably would. But no amount of wishing is going to transport me to a world of drunken confectionery-induced comas. Like most of us I live in the real world – the world of economy, of money and tax and inflation.
This month rail fairs went up an average of 4.1% – the latest in a long stream of incremental increases which have happened with frightening regularity. I’m a rail user, I commute all round the country to do book events. I also regularly trek down to that City of Broken Dreams and Smelly Drains – London as it’s also known – for meetings, so trains are no stranger to me, and neither is their extortionate fares. Now, I like the train. It’s probably my most favourite of all the ‘transports’. It’s a place I can relax, sleep, watch TV, write and dream. But it’s also a place where I sweat, ache and lose more hours than a amnesiac at an absinthe party.
As a creative type I don’t often see my wage increase – in fact I can’t remember the last time it happened. Money from writing tends to be agreed years in advance and is not connected to inflation. And my freelance animation work tends to be on the same rates I’ve charged for years. The usual way most creatives make more money is by producing more stuff! But maybe we should all be thinking like the train companies and put up our prices every January. We should send out a letter to all our clients in December telling them why we have to put our prices up, how we’ll use that extra money to buy better pencils, to invest in nicer tea, and to generally make their creative ‘experience’ more enjoyable. I’m sure all of my clients would completely understand! And it would make my Christmas break the adrenaline-junkies dream, wondering if there will be any work to come back to!
Thing is I’m not much of an adrenaline junkie, and I don’t think most creative people are. We like stability, we don’t like asking for money at the best of times. And the idea of putting our prices up for no good reason? Well, it’s just not going to happen, is it? But maybe it should. Maybe we should approach our passion with a bit more business nous. Maybe we should start valuing our skills in the same way the Railway values its carriages and stations and tracks: as assets, something worth investing in. And if we don’t hike up our prices, if we don’t pass on our costs to the client then what’s the alternative? Well, it’s simple: do less. 4.1% less, to be precise. So that’s why this blog post is shorter. In order to cover my increasing costs I’ve had to curtail my output accordingly. This way I can at least keep my costs the same and I can avoid the horrible confrontation with clients to discuss the horrible subject of money.
But it’s a shame. You see, I’d come up with something quite profound, something to end this blog that would have blown your mind out of your right ear! Really, it was incredibly good! But I’ve had to delete the last 4.1% of this blog which means it all ends rather abruptly somewhere around h
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