Thursday, May 25, 2006

Writerly Poverty

First go read this post on Brenda Coulter's wonderful blog.

Sad, isn't it? But to be expected. Half the world thinks they could write a book. Very few actually pick up a book and read it, let alone plunk down good money for it. So, while there are many avid readers out there, they make up a small percentage of the population. And how many of these readers are also low-paid writers? Of course, that may be a trick to get reviews from talented writers who can't afford the books and have to settle for ARCs.

Most writers have second jobs, or a supportive spouse, or live at home with their parents (i.e. me; but I feel better since Dee Henderson also moved back home with her parents to write) to be able to afford what many consider a hobby. Writers do one type of work for money, and do what they really enjoy - writing - whenever they can. I've recently realized that writing work is also divided into two groups - writing you love, and writing you do to pay the bills.

I'm a fiction writer. I love creating characters and worlds and situations, brewing them all together for a satisfying adventure - of the heart and the mind. Unfortunately, fiction is the hardest type of work to get published. I know this from personal experience in the shorter (non-book) writing realm. I've been paid for articles, reviews, even poems, but never for a short story.

So I write articles and reviews. Though they don't stir my imagination like fiction, I still enjoy them. After all, they're writing. I'm being paid to write. That brings a joy few other kinds of work can. And while my fiction takes a bit of a back burner place, I don't consider it hobby writing. It's an investment in the future.

When I can say, "Yes, I have a second job to support myself while I write. I also write."


Camy Tang said...

I'm very lucky--my husband has a stable job and I could quit work to write. It'll be lean for a few more years, but we'll be okay. Hopefully I'll still get contracts after this one is done. It's in God's hands, I guess.

I'm also lucky because it's pretty easy for me to find a job in my field, and in this area of the country, so I have something to fall back on in case the writing goes dry.


Anonymous said...

I just bumped into this blog and I would like to make a comment.
I finished my first novel and had many false starts with previous novels that didn't seem to have direction. I have found Stephen King's "On Writing" book very helpful and Ken Follet's MasterClass
link. But most importantly, I have found that reading other writers
has helped improved my writing. Finally, I have had many unsuspecting people (that I asked) read my writing and that
has proved invaluable to edit out unnecessary length and elimininate unnecessary writing. The more people that read your writing and edit it for you the more you'll grow as a writer. Doing a second draft makes a world of difference too.

Blake Southwood (writer-in-training)

Post a Comment