So …. There’s this new law. It’s called AB5, and basically … I’m screwed.
“AMERICAN GLORY FADED BEFORE ME”
It was drafted at first to put a cap on the amount of money that Uber and Lyft drivers make as “independent contractors” for their companies … I guess though maybe somewhere in the middle of debates or something freelance writers got thrown in there.
I don’t know if you ever picked up on this about me, but …. Hahahaha … I’m kind of a writer? Like I write things? I write things, and I use it to pay for stuff? You know. Like …. It’s my job?
This law says that I can’t take on more than 35 projects for a single publication in a year .. They’re giving us a cap for a WHOLE year. I wouldn’t be able to feed myself with this.
This post might very well be the most unorganized thing I have ever sat to type down because I have so many feelings about this right now and I’ve just been sitting and thinking about it for like several days now. I’m still so messed up.
“THAT’S MY WHOLE WORLD”
Okay, so your first thought is .. Why don’t you just get a new job?
Um. Because I spent this whole year just choosing to live paycheck to paycheck to write. Because writing is the only thing I can handle doing. Because writing is the only thing I know how to do. Because maybe this is what I want to do. It can’t have been for nothing and I can’t just leave it behind.
I know this comes from a place of privilege and being fortunate enough to choose to be a writer or a journalist and exercise your voice for platforms that will read and listen, I know. I know I’m lucky that I get to choose, but no offense – I’ve worked hard to be able to choose. It didn’t come out of nowhere. I worked the horrible hours at lame jobs before to get here, but so why do I have to feel guilty about wanting to do what I want when literally every. Other. Soul. Living. In. Los Angeles. Is. Here. Because. They’re. Chasing. Their. Dream?
I don’t take any of this for granted, you know. Maybe I shouldn’t complain about how many mental pushes I have to work through or how broke I am when I choose to do it. Sure, but then why does everyone else here get to have a choice?
This is all I’ve worked for. It’s the thing that I’m doing. It’s the thing that everyone said I should be doing since I was really young. It’s the thing I studied to actually do. It’s the thing I’ve spent hours working for free to get credentials to do, and now the actual law is telling me it’s not gonna be enough. It’s not gonna be allowed, and it’s not gonna get any easier.
Why do I have to be the one to start settling when nobody else has to? I am not going to get a new fcking job.
The funny thing is I was sitting here at the start of October and just absolutely praying for winter to come faster so that it could be 2020 because a part of me was hoping that next year would be full of promise and improvement for me.
I remember blogging on here in January, I think, and still feeling horrible. It’s October now, and I can’t say we’ve moved the boat any further. I’ve made some great memories this year, but I have never felt more trapped in my mind than I did these last ten months. I just wanted 2020 to come because even if stuff doesn’t get better, at least there was still a hope that it could because it would all feel brand new, like a brand new start.
Until my home state said this law will go into effect on January 1st of the new year.
“THE WHOLE SCHOOL IS ROLLING FAKE DICE”
“AB5 caps the number of articles a California writer can produce for a publication in a year at 35.” I can’t believe they’re limiting how much I make, and I’m just gonna be honest with you, I don’t make a lot. These are people’s incomes. This is so mind-blowing to me. Putting a limit on the amount you can make, and I get it. Sure. Tax the rich and whatever – that’s the argument we use for billionaires these days, right? Okay, so show me where the line of rich freelance writers in California are because I would love to meet them and shake their hands.
Are you kidding me? Are there some of us who are rich?
The words “a publication” really gets me heated because – and let me just say this because I know it’s true – Top publications are not, I repeat, not hiring writers of color to do freelance work for them, and they are certainly not hiring female writers of color. I send in a cover letter with my name and my name alone, and I should just forget it.
The fact that the language of this bill assumes we have MORE THAN ONE PUBLICATION THAT WE ARE ALL CONTRIBUTING TO is ridiculous. You think we’re all that lucky? If I’m writing for any publication, I’m doing it for free.
One of the fakest things ever is systematic Los Angeles. Every day that I’m still here, I literally wanna throw up with all these fake missions to “diversify Hollywood.” You don’t see it happening on lower levels. You only see them doing it at the top with A-list Hollywood celebrities who are going to be seen on camera – and I’m not shading any of them. God bless people who are actually doing it right now. Ava DuVernay, Shonda Rhimes. They’re my heroes, but don’t think for a second they didn’t have to fight way harder just to get there.
I’m not convinced change is happening on the bottom levels at all. They wanna diversify the entertainment industry? Diversify the jobs for those who are writing and covering and talking about the industry and getting the word and the news out to mass audiences for you. Hollywood is fake. It’s only great if you’re rich, and I don’t want to be here anymore.
The other thing that makes me angry is how only in America will your degree count for everything and also for nothing. They tell you to study in school for years to get the degree you need to get the job you want, right? That’s an American ideal. It doesn’t actually matter, and I’m sorry to say it. Education is important – and kids, you should stay in school, I love you – but when it comes to work, it isn’t the same thing. I studied and learned writing for years. The fact that I have a degree and use the skills it taught me to pursue my job actually doesn’t matter now because of the law. Because the law places a monetary value on it. Because society calls for money to live.
I’m not convinced that there’s anything here that’s real anymore.
“YOU PLAY STUPID GAMES, YOU WIN STUPID PRIZES”
I don’t enjoy writing about politics, but I’ll say the things if I have to, you know so how about the fact that a large portion of the California freelance writing community didn’t even know a bill like this was being talked about?
How about the fact that it was signed in September, and only after that happened did a lot of the community find out about it?
How about the fact that the only information we can actually get about this law is some of the vaguest things I have ever read in my life. There are no answers anywhere, and everyone I’ve read about it just sitting waiting for January 1 to happen in worry.
How about the fact that “prolific” freelance writers in the community did do their best in negotiating the agreements for the bill – The cap was originally going to be 20 – and I thank them for fighting the good fight … Thank you … but let’s just be honest. If other publications are writing about you and calling you a “prolific” freelance writer, you’ve got to not be eating grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner every night.
What makes me even more sad is that this isn’t even a debate about political parties. It’s the government in my home state. It’s some stupid kind of wrap around capitalist agenda, and it’s so so dumb. I really don’t know exactly what it is. It doesn’t even make sense. Someone explain to me the reasoning behind this.
“AMERICAN STORIES BURNING BEFORE ME”
I sat here like an idiot for an hour trying to figure out like how the bill got passed and how it got this far. Like on the surface, you would think that it’d be some kind of violation of the First Amendment. Freedom of the press? I don’t think putting a cap on my work makes it free. I guess it’s because they’re not limiting us to what we write, but how much we make. So it’s just the monetary value of my writing that’s a problem for you. Got it.
TOBY ON THE WEST WING
Does anybody have a copy of the Constitution?
[No one responds.]
This is discouraging.
I know it’s been the current White House’s mission to “Destroy the press,” and “Take down the media,” or whatever, but it’s just so confusing that this comes from state law. I’m so confused about like … The goal here. Seriously, if you’re also a freelancer who is getting this way better than I am, can you leave a comment below? Can we have a conversation about it? I’m going crazy.
“MY TEAM IS LOSING”
From what I’ve heard, there are a lot of writers – and also a lot of Uber and Lyft drivers – who are just upset and angry. I’m currently on a search to find the proper place where I can submit letters to in regards to the fairness of this bill, so if you might have heard of anything and would like to share it, I’d really appreciate it because your girl is broke and is about to get more broke.
It’s just crazy because I felt like all I’ve done this year was stress out about money. When I go to do something that’s not work, I always feel like I’m wasting time because it’s like I could be writing right now and I could be making money. I don’t want to live like that. It sucks, but it’s where I’ve been and it’s where I am.
I’ve discovered that my passion has come down to sharing music with you, and my main goal is to one day use my writing to give artists, musicians, and singers of color and female and non-binary artists of color a platform to have their stuff heard because I know it’s not as easy for them as it should be .. So yeah, I’ve been extremely sad about all of this just thinking about the fact that money is always the thing that has to hold you back from the things you actually care about doing. May we all be so lucky.
and I’m just gonna do a shameful plug right now, since California hates me – if you’re an artist – musician, painter, photographer, singer, sculptor, the person who paints stop signs – and you need someone to write for you or your site or your bio or your resume – get in touch, I’ll be here.
I think the thing that phases me the most about this bill though is the fact that I read that in the language it’s actually written that the law does not consider journalism a form of creative work …… The law says …. Journalism is not …….. “Creative work.”
I’m just gonna move on to the next paragraph before I drop some words that I am going to regret putting up on a blog forever.
“MOST LIKELY TO RUN AWAY”
So, the last thought then would be … Why don’t you just move out of California?
When I tell you that I would leave tomorrow, I would literally leave tomorrow. I have wanted to leave California for so long. I have been here my whole life. I crave to see the world every single day. Every morning that I still wake up in California, I die a little inside. I would leave in a heartbeat. I’m so sick of it and I hate Los Angeles.
I’m jealous of everyone that doesn’t get to be here. You all get winters. You get to see leaves change. You get pretty, snowy, white Christmases. People move here for the weather all the time. I swear, I would leave because of it.
I’ve been saving money to leave. I think about it every day. I really wanted to make it happen next year.
The fact that this law goes into action on January 1st just kills me. The pressure is heavier than ever before for me to do it.
I barely make enough to feel the least bit confident or safe about money when I’m staying up to finish projects until midnight. Capping it at 35 … I wish I was joking, but if you narrowed it down to the basics, it practically means I would be making $35.00.
I’m gonna leave one day. I just hope it’s way sooner. I need it to be sooner.
I guess the timing for me to go has never been better.
I swear, I just want to do what I want to do. Why is that so suffocating?
Listen, there are so many other laws that I could write about that make me angry. An unlimited list of things about the government right now that makes me angry, but then I’m convinced I would explode into oblivion, which kind of doesn’t sound too bad right now.
I’m stressed and scared and deeply sad .. like this is my job. I get to be angry today.
Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince by Taylor Swift 2019