Thanks to modern technology, publishing a book is actually relatively easy. No, hear me out. You don’t need an agent, or a publisher. You just need some money, the internet and the ability to write (sometimes not even that it seems). Oh and the enthusiasm to see the project through to completion. That is a very simplistic view. Getting paid for it is the hard bit.
I see a lot of messages coming through on my Twitter feed on the plight of writers trying to make a living at their art. Like all creative avenues, you should be doing it first because you love it, not because you want to make a buck. Art and creation come from within, not from a 9-5 sat at a desk. It is not an admin position. It is a compulsion. Which is also part of the problem.
I write entirely for personal reasons. I don’t mind not making money out of it, although of course I’d be lying if that wouldn’t be a huge thumbs up to make something from all the hours, weeks, years I have spent on my chosen projects. I am not motivated to write for financial profit. The rewards are emotional and mental. My fame as a writer is tiny but constructive and I think valuable to what I do. And it’s just as well, because if I was trying to make a living from the pen (or the keyboard) I’d of moved into that cardboard box, or my parents back bedroom, YEARS ago. In fact, I would probably have never left home at all if I had been too stubborn to get a day job.
Reading about the financial plight of successful and ‘would-be-financially’ successful writers is a comforting trip down Reality Check Lane. The latest, which inspired me to finish this post from weeks ago, is from Vulture.com on Cheryl Strayed. It is another timely reminder that making an actual living wage out of real gut wrenching compulsive art is hard, hard work and nigh on impossible for many. The greater proportion of us, though writing and successful in a publishing respect (call it what you will), will never make enough to live on.
Most of the people I know in the arts make little more than pocket money out of what they do. They scrimp by on day jobs they hate or saintly partners who took the 9 to 5 option. I am thankful that my ‘9-5’ is also still art and is also one of my compulsions. I’d persevered with enough day jobs to know that I couldn’t go on like that anymore. Five years ago I took the leap.
It has come with many sacrifices though. I make enough to survive but I use the word ‘survive’ with great emphasis here. I enjoy life because I get to be creative and indulge in all those things that make me tick. Ten years ago I could only dream of doing what I love all day and being able to pay my bills. I wouldn’t say there’s a whole lot else going on in my life at the moment but at least what makes me happy is my all day, every day.
And at the moment that’s the payment that pushes me on.
You can read my book ‘A Most Faithful Attendant – The Life of Giovanni Battista Falcieri‘ by purchasing it here.