Volunteering. Psh. Not paid, not worth it.
Kidding. I was thinking about the role of money in creating great works. Do you have to be motivated by payment to write an awesome story? Of course not. But is it an influence? We all know most writers and other artists live modestly at best, and most of us have plans to pursue other careers.
Money can be a good thing when it comes to writing; think of any masterpiece film and it was at least partly motivated by the resulting profit (it certainly needed money to get started). Sometimes I worry about it though; the incentive of profit can be bad for art – think of any trashy but entertaining film, or an overextended movie franchise (Shrek, anyone? Actually, it’s a perfect example of complete lack of creativity – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it). Or try Star Wars – Lucas might have finally stopped making the movies, but every change he makes with the DVDs/Blu-Ray is altering and degrading the artwork (at least in this fanboy’s opinion), and it seems it’s all just for the profit.
I find it interesting that in more socialistic societies art is sponsored not with profit in mind but rather a message or theme. The Coliseum (by the Emperor) and the Sistine Chapel (by the Pope) are two examples that were commissioned. Meanwhile, in the strictest years in Communist China, works that put the government in a good light got promoted above the others.
What should money’s role be? Should we endure another Transformers just because the people demand it (with willingness to pay)? Should authors be content with their pay? Should the government sponsor works? Is the possibility of making millions like J.K. Rowling enough to get people into writing?