Saturday, March 7, 2009

Can a writer be unemployed?

So I saw a blurb that said artists (including writers) are becoming just as unemployed as the rest of the "normal" population. And this started me to think, can a writer really be unemployed?

I know those writers out there struggling to get published and to sell their works would say "yes, we can be unemployed." I'm sure there are even publishers writers out there that would agree. But follow me for a second as I argue this out.

As I've heard several writers say before, you can't stop writing. Meaning, as a writer, writing becomes an obsession of sorts, placed ahead of eating and comfort but only slightly behind breathing. So, if a writer writes all the time, are they unemployed? Aren't they still, technically, working? Granted, they may not sell everything they write, but they are still producing something.

Therefore, since they are working, could they collect unemployment? Let's say Stephen King suddenly can't sell any of his latest stories. He'd still write, but could he collect an unemployment check?

Since I'm not a writer, I don't have much of a view from that side of the fence. However, I think artists should get some sort of unemployment. From a tax perspective, you'd be running something from a Schedule C up to a 1065 or so with your artist business. But with no income and a small or negative AGI (Adjusted Gross Income), I'd think you'd qualify for unemployment, food stamps, etc. I don't think they have a line on the form that says "Starving artists stop here. You don't qualify."

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