October 31, 2012

Self-Exploitation, Part Seven

Posted in self-exploitation, Success tagged , at 3:36 am by Rebecca Hein

During all the years I was writing columns for the Casper Star-Tribune, and slaving to make each piece the best it could be, I wondered more and more why I was so willing to exploit myself.

Then, just a few weeks ago, I landed a $500 writing assignment from a local editor. He knew my excellent work from my years of newspaper columns; therefore no discussion was needed about whether or not I was qualified for the job.

Then, and not before, I saw that all my past insane—or at least totally impractical—self-exploitation was not what I’d thought at all. Rather, I’d been investing in myself the whole time.

October 24, 2012

Self-Exploitation, Part Six

Posted in Creativity, self-exploitation tagged , at 3:27 am by Rebecca Hein

I’ve always known that artists can’t think about their work in the normal way. So many years are required to achieve proficiency that one really can’t expect on-the-job training.

Nobody paid me to practice the cello and nobody paid me to learn to write. Yet even after I’d reached professional caliber, I still too often settled for absurdly low remuneration.

My work, and the potential beauty in it, has always exerted the stronger pull.

October 17, 2012

Self-Exploitation, Part Five

Posted in self-exploitation tagged at 11:36 am by Rebecca Hein

With my column-writing, not only did I have to abandon any idea of spending just a few hours on each piece, I finally realized I had to lavish on them all the time and ingenuity I could spare. This was a repeat of my determination to make my concerto performance as beautiful as humanly possible, without regard to pay.

What was behind this behavior and lifelong pattern? All I knew was that to pursue beauty and quality in my work felt right.

October 10, 2012

Self-Exploitation, Part Four

Posted in self-exploitation tagged at 3:40 am by Rebecca Hein

As if playing a solo with the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra for less than two dollars an hour wasn’t crazy enough, I continued this behavior when I began writing arts columns for my local paper, the Casper Star-Tribune. I was paid twenty-five dollars per column.

At first I tried to limit the time I spent on each column, wanting to set myself a reasonable hourly rate. Yet this felt rushed and simply not right.

October 3, 2012

Self-Exploitation, Part Three

Posted in self-exploitation tagged at 2:32 pm by Rebecca Hein

Why would I pour hours into preparing for a performance for which I’d be underpaid to begin with?

For my performance of the Saint-Saens Cello Concerto with the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra in April 1998, I figured my rate, which included extensive hours of practice, at something less than two dollars an hour.

As previously noted, my fee was due to be cut in half, but the orchestra manager ended up honoring the original verbal agreement. Still, that didn’t change the essential dynamic: that I wanted to play the cello well, and would take almost any opportunity to do so, regardless of how little I was paid.

One could argue that this is a clear case of insanity, at least in regard to work and money.

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