Harlan Ellison’s Wonderful Rant

We live in a time of word saturation. Written content of all kinds—blogs, stories, articles, essays, this blog—is freely available for downloading, printing, emailing to friends, or, in the case of some of my former students, copying and passing off as your own work.

For a long time I was resistant to offering any of my writing for free because beginning at 21 years old, I was paid for my words. I was a reporter for a weekly newspaper, and later a daily, and each week I got a paycheck.

It wasn’t a lot of money, but even now, 17 years later, I can remember the disbelief I experienced when I opened up that first envelope and realized they were actually paying me to write. What I didn’t tell the publisher was that I probably would have done the work for nothing. (Or maybe for 3 squares and a cot.)

This morning, I stumbled upon a fairly famous rant by American writer Harlan Ellison. I’d heard about this polemic of Ellison’s before, but until I watched it, I didn’t realize how much I agreed with it.

His main point: Writers should be paid for their work.

What a concept. He’s right, of course, and his vociferous defense of this principle is making me reconsider how much, and what type of, writing I offer freely myself. Enjoy.



My favorite line in the video is when he says, “Lady, tell that to someone a little older than you who has just fallen off the turnip truck.”

Folks, that’s a writer at work. I just hope someone paid him for this because I don’t want him burning my house down for showing it.

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By Chris Orcutt

Writer — The Dakota Stevens Mystery Series, Short fiction, Plays — Editor & Speechwriter for Hire — Avid Golfer, Chess Player & Awesome Wood-Splitter — Twitter: @chrisorcutt

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