On Capitalism and the Death of Writing

By Trevor Durham on April 22, 2016

I am a writer. I am employed. I am employed writing. And I am concerned about the future of writing for pay.

While I am engaged in a vigorous double major at Florida State, I am under employment at multiple writing outlets I will not name. Current count is seven separate writing engagements. Most recently, I have added a job for which I cannot disclose any information regarding the title of the business or my specific commissions, but I want to inform the world of.

Welcome to the world of modern writing- moral relativity in the business world.

The jobs that writers of the new generation will find themselves in, the career opportunities for writers, aren’t going to be in publishing- self publishing is eradicating the opportunities, popular literature is genre fiction aimed at teenagers, and the market is inundated with laptop liberators in a Starbucks. Online jobs seem great- New York Times and Buzzfeed both need people writing, right?

I got a new job writing that can pay me over a thousand dollars a week, should I drive and motivate myself through it. I’m trying. But I’m not writing The Pentagon Insults Its Afghan Victims or Here Are 4 Badass Ways to Style Your Long Hair for Prom. I’m being paid by corporations to fill their written needs, anonymously.

I am part of an anonymous think tank of people who are very experienced at writing- we are thrown a content board of commissions, first-come first-served style. We can be paid on a per-word basis, or a commission. For quick or exceedingly researched service, we can even be given bonuses. The way writers are tiered, given profiles that list our experience and abilities extensively, we can even be privately hired for assignments. The company is very good at connecting us to companies who could use our service.

The moral grey arises. The projects must be submitted anonymously, without any of our personal info, and we are not credited for our assignments. Writing is no longer an ego stroke, it is a silent survival.

And some of these writing projects make me rather concerned.

Sure, I am now a copywriter- I assist in writing copies, writing product descriptions, and writing titles for the projects. I’ve been taken on for white papers, helping businesses and companies to get information to their employees through emails or printed pages.

At the same time, I may be writing articles / blog posts that manipulate a client into a call-to-action. I may be writing a post on guilting clients to become customers. One job even wanted somebody to take their ideas and ghost-write chapters of their books – not for any money or even eventual credit.

A hypothetical – Say your job is to buy items for resale. You could come, hire one of us, and have us write out an article that tells people why buying that product is terrible, and implying that the ownership of it is equally bad – you want to trick these people into selling to you.

A candid of me rushing to fill commissions.

Is this where rhetoric has led? Is writing now a tool of capitalism and sale? It’s always been there, in advertising and marketing pitches, but it has even swallowed up the literary news in style. I am equally guilty for working for it, but I do what I must. I don’t find it corrupt but I see how others may.

Hell, my first paid job was to help copywrite a new butt blug, but I’ve worked for new lines of exclusive designers, high end tech corporations, written insurance policies, and more. This job is great. My research is being given to me, even if I go above and beyond. I’m being paid to study and put my rhetoric to good use. I am being paid for writing. My writing is helping some companies that need it – even if my writing is now for business needs.

Where will writing end up tomorrow?

I write some things, read lots of things, and try to spend as much time as possible with food in my presence.

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