Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bragging from Other Me

Other Me insisted I share the cover from the Japanese edition of Archangel Protocol (Hayakawa Publishing, Inc.)

And, in doing so, I am reminded of a question that a student of mine asked last night. It was the lecture I like to call in my head the depressing reality of publishing money. With horror in her eyes, my student asked: “How do writers make a living?”

My answer was simply -- they don’t.

Most writers that I know have full or part-time jobs. A surprising number of us in Wyrdsmiths are living as writers, but majority of those are actually stay-at-home parents who are trying to make ends meet on the salary of our spouse (or spousal equivalent).

I can't speak for the others, but my ends don’t always meet.

Writing money – even after five published novels – is what I refer to as my “latte money.” It’s extra, not really even enough to count as supplemental. I teach to make more money, and I write the occasional bit of nonfiction to make more money. But none of it really adds up to a living wage.

This could depress me deeply, but I knew when I started trying to do this professionally that I’d never make a living writing and that only one percent of all writers really make major money from their writing. Writing is something you have to do because you can’t not do it or because if fulfills some deep inner need (or, if you’re a weirdo like me, it brings you enough happiness that the rest doesn’t matter.)

Writing doesn’t help me make a living, but writing makes living worthwhile.

Sappy, but, for me, true.

2 comments:

Sean M. Murphy said...

Sappy, true--and entirely accurate. I too write as a meditation, as a way of finding joy, and in the hopes that some of the stories I have to tell will work for others, will mean something to them. I write to explore, to define, what it is to be human, and how far that definition can be stretched.

Money? I haven't seen any yet.

Anonymous said...

I fully understand that this is true and I've always been happy to cry "that sucks" on behalf of all and any authors.

I just realised as I read your post that I mean that on a really true, deep and fundamental level as well as on the immediate response one.

After my family and friends, books and the people and stories I find within them are one of my greatest joys. It is totally unfair that the people that sweat blood to give me that joy are so poorly rewarded when others get outrageous amounts of money for seemingly ridiculous things - and certainly ones that don't give such great joy to others.

Yeah, that sucks.