Writing: For Love or Money? by Roberta Sykes

It’s good to write for money,
It’s the only way to go,
Forget starving in the attic.
Who can afford attic anyhow?

Let me prostitute my talents
-be a martyr for the arts –
‘Cause without the lovely greenbacks
I’ll just be another tart …

Hawking rhythm up at King’s Cross,
Flogging poems and rhymes and lines
On Friday nights ‘n’ Saturdays,
Monday mornings – paying fines.

I want to write up the bike bikkies,
Heaps to spend, loads to invest.
And I’m delighted to have this bloody chance
To get this bullshit off my chest…

You want to see Black writers as noble
‘n doing it for love?
In whose best interest would that be?
Mine? Or the white publishers above

Pay me hot and pay me heavy,
Turn me into Champagne Queen.
Let me worry about “cultural isolation”
’cause I’m really not so green

As to envy “true blue” bards
And their squat-o-cratic kin
Who cry that they are starving
Between Australia Council grants coming in.

‘Cause some are funded mighty finely
When they pen “abo”, “lubra”, “gin”,
While the people they refer to
Live under corrugated tin.

I believe I could write better
In a mansion up the coast.
Then, when I visit Redfern
Could buy everyone a toast.

I would love to write for money,
Filthy lucre, legal tender,
Cash, postal note, money order
Even cheque – I’ll tell spend ‘er.

Better Paradis-de-mer than wiltja,
Caviar ‘stead of bread and jam,
Better I should write for diamonds
Than for “wham, bang, thank you ma’am.”

I understand that in Whitesville
Folks like to suffer for their craft
And the tattered garb they get about in
Helps to advertise, sets them apart –

But in Redfern, its quite differen’
No kudos in that ragamuffin guff,
’cause everybody wearin’ it,
Apart is courtier, expensive stuff.

Better Elle McPherson lingerie
Than wear St. Vincent de Paul,
Better slinky silky contour
Than sugar-bag to cover-all.

Give me money for Mercedes,
Cash to fatten up my butt,
‘n I won’t mind if the media refers to me
As that Black successful literary slut

If my critics want to live in poverty
They should give their dough away
“Write for Love” is very easy
When you’re white and got money anyway.

Who’s this fool want “Write for Love”?
Better money any day.
Must be lousy sort of writer
Can’t negotiate for pay.

Let me share my secret with you,
Sure as heavy is above-
Write for money better, honey,
And do jiggy-jig for love!

Originally posted here.

11-63 Dr R Sykes & Naomi'94_original

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