Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The dream

Most writers have a dream. Some just want to finish their story. Others just want to be published. A good number want to be the next Stephen King or Anne Rice or Tom Clancy or J.K. Rowling, etc.

My dream is to have fiction writing as a career. I don't expect to get rich, though I'd like to make enough money to quit my day job. From there, I'd like to write a couple of novels a year, with a few short stories thrown into the mix every once in a while. Maybe I'd try my hand at screenwriting again, or get into writing for video game companies.

Some might call that selfish. Others would just say "it's nice to have a dream." Some would say it's never going to happen.

And it might not. But you know what, it sure as heck won't happen if I don't give it a try.

What has brought this post on is my annoyance at reading online advice to writers that says "just do it for the love of writing, not for the money." I'm sure this advice is warranted, as there are a lot of people out there who are trying to be writers and a good number of them are not realistic about their goals or their expectations or their level of skill or talent.

Me? I love writing, and I think I have some talent, though I don't claim to be the next Hemingway. But ya know what? I still want my paycheck. Even if my dream of becoming a career writer is never fulfilled, I will continue to write. I love writing. I really, really do.

But I often think writers do themselves a disservice by only "doing it for the love of writing." I'm not saying I'm ready to join a writer's union, but I think it's time writers stood up for themselves more.

And I don't mean you should pester some editor or publisher for money. I think writers just need to be aware that if they are serious about being published, then they need to be aware they are in a business, not a hobby.

If you want to make money, then your publisher has got to make money. It's that simple. So, write the best you can, submit it, and keep your dreams alive.

Just don't quit the day job.



zornhau said...

Well said. It's a business, albiet a one we engage in with passion. Microbrewing is also an art, but nobody suggests that brewers should give away their ale. Go read "Atlas Shrugged"!

Even if we do it for the love of it, writing time has an opportunity cost and there are other people involved - kith, kin etc. Going pro means being able to keep normal business hours.

Anonymous said...

I'd be happy to suggest brewers give away their ale. I think that's a grand idea.

Ty said...

z, I've read "Atlas Shrugged." "The Fountainhead" is in my pile of books to-be-read-at-a-future-date as is a biography of Rand. I'll get around to them eventually.

zornhau said...

Well there you are then. It's a very, very late development that art should be for art's sake and that wanting to get paid devalues the artist.

Ty said...

I think a lot of writers are afraid to talk about money because it will make editors and publishers angry with them, that a writer will get a reputation as being greedy.

I don't look at it that way, but I also consider working with editors and publishers as part of a collaboration, not employment. Sure, I can't get published without them, but I'm not doing them a favor. I'm bringing them business. Yes, they don't need me, but part of my job as a writer is to make myself "necessary" to the publisher, to make them money so I make money.