Owning Your Narrative

This will be a short post, just a note of dissatisfaction.

Those who follow me know that I’m mouthy about freelancers getting screwed — screwed out of contracts, screwed out of pay, screwed out of rights, and the general sense that we get screwed out of basics like health care in the US.[1]

But there’s another thing we’re expected to get screwed on: owning the narrative of your involvement. The “professional” stance is to, when you’re in a bad situation, to be quiet about it publicly. To cede your narrative and let the other party take it over to their benefit. Then I see today that Stan! wrote about the sort of thing we’re generally quiet about: why he’s parting ways with WotC. (Naturally, in a gentlemanly fashion.)

Why do we let ourselves get in these situations, where the other party  is expected to control what’s said? It’s partly because we want to get hired again, sure, and there’s the fear that the very act of speaking up will ruin that. (And suddenly  I better understand when my female friends talk about being this situation — in everyday life, not just in work.) It’s partly an energy & stress thing. And it’s all made messy by companies that are run as extensions of personalities or bands rather than as real companies.[2]

But worse, it’s expected. And that turns into loads of private conversations at conventions and whatnot where you tell people you know why to not work for someone, or at least what to watch out for when doing so. But that doesn’t help anyone except those who are already “in the know,” which just gots to promote an ivory tower vibe when this community doesn’t need more of that.

Plus, it’s not as if there’s so much money in this hobby community that the bullshit involved in these tremulous situations is worth it.

All this has lead me to a decision: I don’t intend to freelance very much in 2013, beyond what I need to do for a day job/gig. I love who I’m working with right now, and am having a blast on the Technocracy books, but it’s time for me to do my own thing after these various projects are done. I give a lot of my time to power dynamics that aren’t in my favor — far more than 40 hours a week. And with everyone I’m working with right now, the relationships are great. But the last couple years have provided some harsh lessons that just because you’re friends and working well together today doesn’t mean shit won’t happen next month.

So maybe it’s good to take some time away from a heavy schedule of working 60+ hours a week for others, while existing relationships are still copasetic.

And I want to own my narrative again.

– Ryan

[1] Though, that last bit is changing over time due to government.

[2] Which is to say: almost every game company. And I like contracting with Paizo because they do act like a mature company. (Plus, I’m learning a lot working here.)


One Response to Owning Your Narrative

  1. Lizzy B. says:

    I’ve gotten to the point that I’m kind of longing for just a regular office job again. Like, working normal hours. Having my weekends back. And never having to send emails about how overdue my paycheck is? Sounds like a fucking dreamworld.