Dear Sherman Alexie:
I saw your call for authors to spend November 30 handselling books at our local independent bookstores.
I checked the date and was surprised it was September first and not April first because are you fucking kidding me?
News flash: Most of us actually can't support ourselves writing full time. I, for example, teach all week and then try, between taking kids to soccer and grocery shopping and trying to keep the house from falling down, to write on the weekends.
So you're asking me to give up the only time I get to write in order to work in a bookstore. Well, I guess I'll consider it. How much does this gig pay?
Because I don't work for free.Writers shouldn't work for free and neither should anybody else. It's disrespectful of your time and expertise to even be asked to work for free. I mean, sure, you can volunteer for a worthy cause, and such organizations are registered 501(c)(3) nonprofits. Or if you want to do something bookish, go volunteer at your local library, which is actually a public institution operated for the benefit of the community. A local bookstore, on the other hand, is a for-profit enterprise, and unless they are paying me, they're not getting any of my labor. Otherwise, I'm spending my day working to make money for someone else. And that makes me a chump.
So, no, I'm not skipping a writing day in order to donate my labor to a local business. And neither should anybody else. What a weird, out of touch, implicitly classist, and insulting thing to ask.