My view of the world when I was young was that it was a place of adventure. This remains true. I write because I imagine, hear or see things that I feel someone could benefit from me writing about them. Egotistical and irrational, of course, but that’s the fiction writer’s curse.
My first published works were adult short stories in Australian literary magazines. A number of kind editors assisted me with advice, and later, some risk-taking publishers took me on from the slush pile. I am indebted to many in the Australian writing community. Without help, you struggle. With help, you still struggle but you might haul yourself out of the muddy hole of rejection.
I write for young people, my work covering such disparate subjects as Australians fighting on the Western Front, to short pieces, such as Rodney The Surfing Duck (a vastly under-appreciated multi-layered classic, in my opinion). I work as hard as I can to write the best books I’m capable of producing. This is why copyright matters to me.
Try wandering into the Ferrari factory to take a car for a spin without paying. Try borrowing Ferrari blueprints for your own purposes. You’ll end up in court. Yet the work, the intellectual property, of Australian professional writers is seen as resource that hardly need be paid for.
Currently, Australia and New Zealand boast the highest percentage of students with low literacy levels among English speaking countries (Australian Financial Review, 24-26th. January, 2015: source, Centre for Independent Studies). This alarming fact demands a huge lift in the reading and writing skills of Australian children. Never has literacy been more important than in 2015. Never have Australian writers been needed more and valued less.
Australian writers are under-paid, under-appreciated and exploited. As a group, their working lives are devoted to creating the finest books they can for other people – the rewards? A very average per annum income of approximately $10,000 pre-tax… so, we should fight like pig dogs to protect our work from those who seek to use it unfairly.
My copyright payments have gone towards everything from a pencil case for my son, a dog bowl for my dog, and to young Adrian Murphy, our plumber, for fixing the toilet. Like most working people, my income is used to support my family – this income derives from what I write. Protecting copyright of written work (especially if it’s yours!) is vital. Have this tattooed on your forehead, if you’re forgetful.
There’s a Beastie Boys song that asserts that “you gotta fight for your right to party” – well, writers, you gotta fight for the rights of your intellectual property! Don’t back down.