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determined2finish
03-29-2005, 08:01 AM
This question has bugged me for a while. I've always heard that "writers write" and I try to write everyday, but without having sold anything yet I don't feel like a real writer. When I write I feel like I have moved a mountain, but without that official sale I feel like I'm just a writing daydreamer.

Does anyone else deal with these feelings? Does writing in itself give you satisfaction or do you not feel satisfied until your work is sold?

mdin
03-29-2005, 09:34 AM
For me, it's two completely different things. I write, the fictional stuff at least, for myself. I write myself into a corner a lot, but it's the only way I can do it and stay motivated. I know many excellent, successful writers who always write with $$ on their mind, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But there's nothing wrong for doing it for the art, either. Most people I know balance it out.


There's nothing like that very first paycheck. And there's nothing like getting bigger ones each time, either. But I still prefer the "moving mountains" feeling you're talking about, and that has nothing to do with getting paid and/or published.

You became a writer the moment you wrote something.

Melina
03-29-2005, 02:48 PM
I agree with Navigator. It's really subjective. I am a writer, and have been for a long time. I haven't been a professional writer for very long, though. The money is satisfying, yes, but I'd still be writing, money or not.

Melina

veinglory
03-29-2005, 03:06 PM
I write for readers. I feel most happy when they actually pay to read, but I also gained a lot of satisfaction from unpaid small press publication -- especially when readers email to say how much they enjoyed the piece.

robeiae
03-29-2005, 06:28 PM
As an unpublished writer, a label I appended to myself about a year ago after I quit working to write full time, I have the same feelings you do, d2f; in fact I probably have them every day. Am I just spinning my wheels? Do I really have something to say that's worth writing down? Will anyone fork over their hard-earned money for one of my books? Will Batman and Robin escape the giant clam? No...wait...sorry, I lost my train of thought.

But I keep plugging along, regardless. Ideally, I'd like to think that if you love to write, you never have to sell a thing for satisfaction; I know people just like this. If you are writing because you feel you have something important or interesting to say, you're in for a ride, I think, and satisfaction will only come when someone says "Hey, you gotta read this guy's book!" If your're writing to make money because you're good at it, other less-successful writers might envy you, but to you, its probably just a job. Of course, in reality, all of us as writers probably have a little of all these guys in us, so I would think everyone has these feelings once and a while.

Good post, made me think!

Rob

mommie4a
03-29-2005, 06:38 PM
In the best light, selling and writing have a symbiotic relationship. But I think that means that within yourself, you have to have that kind of relationship with the fact that you need to both sell and write. Of course, you don't need to be selling and writing simultaneously at any one moment, and every piece you write will come into being for different reasons - for yourself, for someone else, for some purpose. I don't think there's a right or wrong way to view the purpose, so long as you can make peace with your choice of writing or selling for that purpose.


When it comes to a column I write, I agree with Veinglory: I'm writing for the readers. It feels great to get emails that say, I read this and I had to pass it on. But not all writing is meant to do that. Sometimes I write only for myself. I start new works all the time. If I learn that there's a market interested in that type of disclosure or discussion or treatment of an issue, I may query or submit the work. But it started out as being for me.

I think, for me, the key thing is to believe in what you're pursuing. You may find external support for your work (from loved ones etc.) but if you don't believe in the value and the need to put words on paper, whatever the project is, then chances are that will show in what you do produce.

Good luck. There are no easy answers but, as with raising kids, the rewards really satisfy.

Alphabet
03-29-2005, 10:55 PM
I think what you have to understand is that this isn't really about the writing or the selling.

Is one a person who needs approval from others to justify their pursuits and behaviours, or one who approves themselves in their own internal courtroom?

Perhaps we are all professional until proven amateur?

Don't worry so much about whether you are a great writer, be satisfied that you are at least a potentially great writer. And do you know what that needs? directed effort, desire to improve, and persistent practice.

After all, if you don't have sugar and egg-white you won't make meringue.

We all have the right to write, right?

aka eraser
03-29-2005, 11:32 PM
I think we all start with the notion that it's the writing that's most important. But if you want to twin the words "writing" and "career" you can't avoid assigning equal importance to the selling. The publishing world isn't going to rifle through your desk drawers, your hard drive, or the shoebox under your bed while you're sleeping in order to discover you.

Sooner or later you need to put the words out there; usually again and again and again, seemingly ad infinitum, until the cheques start arriving or you decide "Oh heck. It's the writing that's important anyway" and you quit sending.

It's definitely something only the individual can decide. I send out my weekly column free. Initially I rebelled at the idea but now I'm very happy I was cajoled into it. I get terrific feedback and have made lots of new friends.

Oh, and I've tweaked a few and sold them. And I do believe I'll compile a bunch into a book eventually. ;)

determined2finish
03-31-2005, 12:17 AM
Thanks for all of your inspiration! Sorry for the delay in my reply...yesterday was a lost day for me.

aka eraser: I'm glad to hear about your weekly column. There must be a great satisfaction in knowing your work is read and appreciated by others!

alphabet: I like your comment that we are all professional until proven amateur (LOL)

mommie4a: You have given me such great advice on every thread I've posted here. It is hard writing sometimes with kids running circles around me, but you've done very well in the same situation. Thanks for the inspiration :)

robeiae: I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one struggling with these same issues. Congratulations on being able to write full time - that is my goal one day. What type of work are you doing? Good luck with your writing.

veinglory: It is nice to have your work appreciated by the readers. Someday I hope to earn an income with this, but I know I'll still be writing regardless.

Melina: Thanks for your comments...how long have you written professionally? How did you make the transition?

Navigator: "You became a writer the moment you wrote something" that is a great comment. I don't think I'll be able to refer to myself as a writer until that first paycheck (don't know why) but I will always feel in agreement with your comment. Thanks :)

Torin
04-01-2005, 05:25 AM
I love writing. I've done it since I was very young and wrote my first SF "novel" when I was about 15 or 16. It's still kicking around the house somewhere and the core story is pretty good. I haven't read it in over 20 years, but I'm pretty sure the writing sucks big time.

When I finished "Angels Among Us" and sent it to a friend of mine now living in England to read and critique for me, a writing friend introduced me to Opendiary.com and I started keeping a fantasy journal there--the rough draft of a novel I had misplaced in a move. I continued writing by the seat of my pants after I ran out of pages to transcribe and have continued there for five years. Some of my readers there are very loyal and I really enjoy the feedback. If I make money (more than the little I've made from "Angels" royalties), that's great, but I love to write stories and to hear back what people got from them. Ego boost, I guess. :)

Torin

Nateskate
04-03-2005, 09:17 PM
I don't write just to write. But then again, I didn't origionally write expecting to be published. At first that wasn't an objective. But I had an audience in mind that I intended to share my story with.

I write to share my thoughts. Generally, I'm not much of a journal-er. I've written in a number of venues, I've just never tried writing in one for pay yet. This is the first time.

If I'm deluded about my talent, and no agent or publisher is interested (I'm hoping this is not the case) then I will find a way to get my story out. Whether that means self-publishing, (I'm not keen on hawking books, and in fact it probably wouldn't be worth it for me) or more likely, I'd create a website with links to my story, I'll share it.

Why? I think I have something important to say and interesting to say. I write for the same reason I speak, to be heard. Yes, I like the creative process. But for me, I wouldn't be worried about countless re-writes and changes and corrections if I didn't think it was worthy of publishing. This goes way beyond "fun" for me. It's grueling work at times.

Heck, I'd just make it a series on "Share your work" thread. Those who write to write are different. Yeah, I love to write stories, and to some degree it's fun, but I'm just a social animal. I want to share these things. (Published or not)

Kudra
04-03-2005, 11:24 PM
When I chose writing as a career, I expected to make money. Plain and simple. The day I stop making money, I guess I'll have to start looking for an alternate career. Because while I'll still be writing, it will be as a hobby and not for money.

That's what each individual needs to decide for him/herself. If you're viewing writing as a career choice, are you happy being on the bottom rung and making no money? I know I'm not, which is why in order for writing to keep its professional charm, it needs to bring in at least a decent amount of income each month. Otherwise, to me, it's just a hobby. And I suspect that's the case with many writers, which is why so many writers opt for non-fiction over fiction.

And so when you ask what's more important, I say money. Because I'm viewing it as a profession. If/when writing becomes a hobby to me, the money factor won't be there. Then the writing will be the most important.

This is my personal opinion though. So don't bash me up if you don't agree. :)

mommie4a
04-04-2005, 03:37 AM
I promise not to bash, because I like you so much, Mridu. But I definitely would love to have a polite and well-informed debate! How bout it?

Kudra
04-04-2005, 03:32 PM
I promise not to bash, because I like you so much, Mridu. But I definitely would love to have a polite and well-informed debate! How bout it?

You're on! :Thumbs:

mommie4a
04-04-2005, 06:25 PM
I come at the issue of labeling writing as profession versus as a hobby from a very different perspective.

Do I write to make money? No. Do I therefore write as a hobby? No.

I know others may say that I'm in denial and indeed it is a hobby if I don't write to make money. But I think that that is a very defeating position to all writers and it simply doesn't apply to me (and I'm sure some others) because no career choice I've ever made prioritized money. That's just me, and always has been. (My father's constant nagging of me during various periods of my life about why couldn't I pick the better paying (but less satisfying) jobs, attests to this. Example: he always asked me, why did I have to take non-paying, fellowship funded internships at legal aid offices instead of taking the $2000/week NYC large law firm jobs.)

I recognize the place to which my perspective often gets relegated by fulltime, career writers (unintentionally or intentionally, and with or without malice) and so I do struggle - when I'm mingling in the writing community - with feeling like a lower caste of a writer. Knowing you're in India, I don't say that lightly.

I'm on deadline today and am posting this as a diversion for a moment, but I guess the crux is this: I'm dedicated, I'm hardworking, I'm published - so there are editors who want to publish and pay for what I have to say the way I say it. To label my efforts as a hobby, because the income isn't the top priority for me in my endeavors, feels - with all due respect - a little insulting.

On the flip side, I mean NO insult ever to fulltime, career writers - I don't think they have to feel demeaned if a someone they heretofore viewed as a hobbyist likes to feel that he or she is writing just as seriously. I know I'm not a fulltime professional and I never represent myself as such. I just don't like or feel that the label hobby applies to me, or a large group of us out there.

I'd love to hear from others in my situation (less than 40 hours/week, not primary source of income for household writers) to get a sense of whether they consider it just a hobby, or a gradual ramping up of their efforts to become fulltime or "more" professional - meaning, in this discussion, money being the priority.

NOW - all that being said, Mridu - if I've misunderstood what you wrote (and that's the limitation of this one-dimensional technology), I want to be set straight. I'm also very cool with agreeing to disagree.

I think for me, I've worked so hard to feel like and be a legitimate writer. Having what I do and the time I dedicate to it viewed as a hobby - it feels like a setback. Maybe I'm wrong - I'd love to hear more on this!

Thanks!

JAlpha
04-04-2005, 06:45 PM
For me writing is a PASSION:heart: My degree is in the visual arts, and I taught high school art for a number of years. Sold my paintings in "art in the park" style venues, galleries etc. etc. But, it always troubled me that my fellow artists seemed to be so much more devoted to their art than I was. I was in it for the money. I'd pack up all my paintings in the back of my van, display them for a weekend and come back with an empty van, and often enough pre-orders for my work to keep me busy for half a year! But like I said, my interest in what I was doing didn't seem to match the other artists I knew. It seemed if they couldn't get into their studios to paint for a day or two they would become unglued. I DIDN'T get that! I didn't care if I went for days, even sometimes weeks without working in my study.


Then, in the midst of raising three small children, doing my artwork became nearly impossible. So just to keep my creative spirit alive, I enrolled in an evening workshop for creative writing, and it changed my life! Now I can't imagine going a day without writing, and I don't make a penny doing it, and I don't care. I feel blessed to have discovered something that I can be passionate about.

So what I'm getting at is there's one more piece to this puzzling question, that you are all overlooking. Some writer's, or for that matter artists in general, write because it's a hobby . . . some because it's the way they aspire to make a living, but DON'T forget . . . SOME of us write because we can't imagine what our lives would be like if we didn't.

Anyone else feel PASSIONATE about writing?

JAlpha

mommie4a
04-04-2005, 06:52 PM
Without question - that's how I started. The first work I ever submitted to a contest was called "Passion Junkie" and was about why I write. (I got 8th place and some editors' meetings at a writer's conference for the effort.)

But this goes back to the fact that everything I pursue (with the exception of some of my household chores) I pursue because of passion or desire or interest or intrigue. For me, why else would you do anything? (I'm excluding the obligatory tasks in life that keep you going from day to day.) It frustrates the heck out of my husband, who, thank God, and by no strange twist of fate, does everything for $$. Lucky me, he's pretty good at that.

JAlpha
04-04-2005, 06:58 PM
It frustrates the heck out of my husband, who, thank God, and by no strange twist of fate, does everything for $$. Lucky me, he's pretty good at that.

:roll: DITTO!

I don't need no stinkin' diamonds or pearls. My husband knows the surest way to win my heart (and other various body parts), is to give me my time to write!

I feel a mutal sisterhood forming here, do we "get" each other or what?????

JAlpha

mommie4a
04-04-2005, 07:10 PM
My husband knows the surest way to win my heart (and other various body parts), is to give me my time to write!

I feel a mutal sisterhood forming here, do we "get" each other or what?????

JAlpha

You da bomb! Ugh - I have to finish this profile and STOP checking in here!

jdkiggins
04-04-2005, 07:19 PM
determined,

I've said it in different threads and I'll repeat it here.
I love to write. Writing is all I've ever wanted to do. If anything I write helps someone in someway, that's worth more to me than money. I won't say that the money and byline isn't wonderful, but my true payment is knowing someone may have taken some good from what I wrote.

Joanne

mommie4a
04-04-2005, 07:26 PM
determined,

I've said it in different threads and I'll repeat it here.
I love to write. Writing is all I've ever wanted to do. If anything I write helps someone in someway, that's worth more to me than money. I won't say that the money and byline isn't wonderful, but my true payment is knowing someone may have taken some good from what I wrote.

Joanne

For myself, I cannot say it better than that. (so why did I write that long thing a few posts ago? Joanne - you wanna ghostwrite my posts??)

jdkiggins
04-04-2005, 07:32 PM
:) No, Jill. You did just fine.:Hug2:

Rose
04-04-2005, 08:21 PM
And so when you ask what's more important, I say money. Because I'm viewing it as a profession. If/when writing becomes a hobby to me, the money factor won't be there. Then the writing will be the most important.

I lean towards Mridu's camp, but I see the merit in saying that writing seriously shouldn't be classified as a hobby (even if doesn't generate a dime)...how's that for taking a stand!

I love to write, and always have. Back before email, I'd write really long letters to friends and family. Fully illustrated with colored pencil drawings. And five years ago, I started a quarterly newsletter "all about me" that is still going strong. It originally started as a forum for my personal essays and travel stories, and I sent it to a few friends and family. Now, it goes out to over 100 people and includes essays by me AND my friends and family. I love it.

It takes a lot of time and effort to put out that publication (my PageMaker, Photoshop, photography, writing skills, and now, editor, skills get a work out every three months).

But I digress. The point is, I love to write and I've always considered myself a writer. Since getting laid off eight months ago, however, I've come to see myself as a Freelance Writer. That's a career. It's a career I love, but if I don't make cash at it and have to get another 9-5 job that often sucks the creative juice out me, I'll go back to being a happy and fulfilled writer.

Hmm, I wonder if this conversation is like one of those debate club things. I suspect that if we narrowly defined the terms, we might all agree!

Kudra
04-04-2005, 11:53 PM
I see some very good points made by everyone here, and while I do think that this is like the many discussions where writers in two camps agree to never agree, I think we can all learn from each other's way of thinking. So here goes...


Do I write to make money? No. Do I therefore write as a hobby? No. I know others may say that I'm in denial and indeed it is a hobby if I don't write to make money. But I think that that is a very defeating position to all writers and it simply doesn't apply to me (and I'm sure some others) because no career choice I've ever made prioritized money.


Jill, you're saying this because you're taking it to mean that I'm viewing a hobby as something demeaning or not good. I'm not. As an example, I love teaching. Sometimes, I'll take my young cousins and teach them English or Math and I don't get compensated for it. It's fun. I could do it every day. But is it my profession? Nope. For the simple reason that (1) I'm not making any money doing it and (2) I'm not pursuing it with any kind of goal in mind. I do it when I feel like doing it and when I don't feel like teaching, I don't. If I take up teaching in a school, then it's a career choice.

Writing on the other hand, is my profession. I love writing. That's why I've made it my profession. But since it is my profession, it needs to bring in the income. That's why I'll negotiate for higher fees, take up projects I have absolutely no interest in, and write even when I don't feel like writing. That's why I have to meet a deadline. And it's also why I query first. If I were doing it for the passion, I'd write something and then, if I felt like it, try to sell it. But me and a lot of other writers don't do that. We first sell and then write. And if an editor offered to pay me $2 a word for an article on monkey reproduction, I'd chuck my non-interest in the subject and get to know everything about the damn monkeys. A person who isn't writing for the money would say, "Thanks, but no thanks."



I recognize the place to which my perspective often gets relegated by fulltime, career writers (unintentionally or intentionally, and with or without malice) and so I do struggle - when I'm mingling in the writing community - with feeling like a lower caste of a writer. Knowing you're in India, I don't say that lightly.


As I said, I don't think either of the choices is a good thing or a bad thing. I'm just saying it's a choice. Either you write for the money or you write for the love of the writing. If you get to do both, good for you.

It's funny you say that, actually, because I feel the same way around most writers. Many writers don't write for the money actually, so when I say money is my primary motivation, they look at me strange. :) It's like the whole to-write-or-not-to-write-for-free debate. You're damned if you do, you're damned if you don't.



I'm dedicated, I'm hardworking, I'm published - so there are editors who want to publish and pay for what I have to say the way I say it. To label my efforts as a hobby, because the income isn't the top priority for me in my endeavors, feels - with all due respect - a little insulting.


That's because you have a different view of "hobby" than I do. Maybe hobby isn't the right word. I'm just viewing hobby as something that's not bringing in income but is something I like to do. Or something that does bring in a nice check from time to time, but it's something that I'm not doing for a profit motive. That's the important thing here. When you're operating for a "profit motive," you're in it for the money. But if you'd do it regardless, it's not.

Luckily, we have the option of striking a balance. Most of my work is for money, but there are some essays that I would have written whether or not they ever got printed.

In my opinion, the issue is not how serious you are about your writing, but what your motivation is. My motivation is money. If I don't make enough, I'll continue writing in my spare time, but I'll get another job. If I do make a decent income, I'm one of the lucky few who can use their passion to further their career.



I think for me, I've worked so hard to feel like and be a legitimate writer.

But Jill, that's exactly what I mean-- just because you're doing something for a hobby (someone please find a better word), doesn't mean you're not a legitimate writer. Every writer is a legitimate writer, regardless of how much they earn.



but DON'T forget . . . SOME of us write because we can't imagine what our lives would be like if we didn't.

Anyone else feel PASSIONATE about writing?


Hey, I'm passionate about writing, too! That's exactly why I'm not in some corporate job programming my butt off. I have a degree in Information Technology, but I'm a full-time writer. You don't give up a high-paying job and take a risk with full-time freelancing unless you have passion! We just take it to the next level and call it our career.



It frustrates the heck out of my husband, who, thank God, and by no strange twist of fate, does everything for $$. Lucky me, he's pretty good at that.

I'm quite like your husband, Jill! :D



I lean towards Mridu's camp, but I see the merit in saying that writing seriously shouldn't be classified as a hobby (even if doesn't generate a dime)...how's that for taking a stand!

Okay, I'll agree to that. But what do you call them then? Not everyone is (or wants to be) a professional writer.



The point is, I love to write and I've always considered myself a writer. Since getting laid off eight months ago, however, I've come to see myself as a Freelance Writer. That's a career. It's a career I love, but if I don't make cash at it and have to get another 9-5 job that often sucks the creative juice out me, I'll go back to being a happy and fulfilled writer.


Yes, yes, yes! Maybe I should erase everything else I've said so far and just leave this up.

mommie4a
04-05-2005, 12:16 AM
Mridu,

I think you've presented an excellent point-counterpoint and frankly, the post alone should be submitted to some writing market as is, just to demonstrate the variety of points to be made on both sides.

Yes, hobby is not quite the right word but, at least in the US, it often describes a leisure activity with the pursuit of money irrelevant. There is no way on earth I would call my writing a leisure activity - it gives me great pleasure the way some leisure activities might, and I do it in my leisure time as well as my I'm getting paid now time. But writing is a more serious endeavor for me than the word hobby connotes, and I do want it to pay, absolutely.

I think my situation exists in the grey field because there's no expectation that I should be making a lot of money, yet anyway. Again, I will say that I have a very hard-working, ambitious, generous and successful enough husband with whom I've prioritized the family over and above all else right now. That will not always be the case. THEN...watch out.:Thumbs:

Thanks for the thread, Mridu. You are always a pleasure to read and learn from. As a relative newcomer to writing, I thank goodness you want to do it for the money, because I get to benefit from all your good stuff.

Jill

Rose
04-05-2005, 05:34 AM
Just so you all know, this post plagued me all day long. I couldn't get the topic out of my mind, and right around lunch time I began wondering if I was schizophrenic.

"I love to write, so I'm in it for the writing!"

"No, you're not! You want to be out running right now, but you're sitting at your desk pounding out an article. You're in it for the money!"

I ate two sandwiches and called it good.

determined2finish
04-05-2005, 06:21 AM
Wow! I am so glad to hear such good debating on this topic. Although many of the responses argue both points, I find myself torn between both sides of the issue. I'm glad to see I'm not alone in this soul searching.

I would love to make writing my career, but at this early stage it seems that I might have to wait a while for that to happen.

I personally understand the despair in having to work in a creativity zapping job. Any job that takes time away from your creative expression is a major demotivator. Writing gives me energy, hope and optimism. If I could have that euphoria AND earn enough money from it to pay my bills on time I'd be on cloud nine. I admire all of you who have made that happen for yourselves!

Kudra
04-05-2005, 06:04 PM
Thanks for the thread, Mridu. You are always a pleasure to read and learn from. As a relative newcomer to writing, I thank goodness you want to do it for the money, because I get to benefit from all your good stuff.

Aww, thanks Jill! :Hug2:
(Love your site, btw. Can I borrow your designer?)



"I love to write, so I'm in it for the writing!"

"No, you're not! You want to be out running right now, but you're sitting at your desk pounding out an article. You're in it for the money!"

:roll:

mommie4a
04-05-2005, 08:09 PM
Web designer, a year ago, I paid $50/hour - what you see cost me $300 and she updates (minimals) for free. I expect to OVERHAUL it in the next 4-8 weeks.

Beth Tindall - www.cincinnatimedia.com

She's done several authors and has links to their sites.

Let me know if you have any other questions!

(And I love you too - I'm on deadline and TRYING not to procrastinate - how many times have I said that in the last four days??)

Jill

Celeste
04-05-2005, 10:36 PM
I try to write everyday, but without having sold anything yet I don't feel like a real writer. When I write I feel like I have moved a mountain, but without that official sale I feel like I'm just a writing daydreamer.


Grrrr... Don't say that! I hate to hear a writer say that about themself. My personal view is this...If you write and you love it and couldn't live without it, whether you get paid for it, or not, you are a writer.

As for being paid vs. writing for myself...

That all depends on what I'm writing. The articles and columns I write are
definitely for the money. But if I'm writing an essay, or attempting fiction
(which I'm still learning to do -- fiction), I'm writing for myself. If it sells,
then that just makes it all the more better.

celeste

LRFarley
04-06-2005, 06:34 AM
When I played guitar in my youth, I practiced until I was good enough to play in a band. The band practiced until we were good enough get a gig. Years later, I was still playing in bands, still making a few dollars on the weekends, but the thrill had disappeared. The band wasn't growing, and I felt stagnated.

Writing has always been, and recently I won a contest and a book contract. Couple of months before that, I sold a flash fiction for more than I've made with the book so far. Since then I've sold a few stories for a few bucks. I've also submitted to a couple of for-the-love-of venues and been rejected.

The thing is to give myself the chance to grow in contests, with my crit groups, with submissions, and as long as that continues to happen, I'll continue to write.

Haha, I just thought that I also play golf, but not very good. However, every time I play, I make one shot that brings me back the next time. One shot that feels so good that I don't put that ad in the paper to sell my clubs. Sometimes writing's like that.

Bob Farley

Zee
04-06-2005, 10:57 PM
But must we choose between one and the other?

Perhaps this is a sign of the times... that far too many of us slog away at jobs in cubes with no pleasure derived from our work and no sense of achievement at the end of the day. Too many of us work to live instead of live to work, eh?

Joseph Campbell put it into words with his now well-known urging: "Follow your bliss."

Writing is both my passion and my means of making a living. There are times that I write for my pay, but that doesn't mean I don't get creative enjoyment out of it. There are times I write only for pleasure, but usually, eventually, if the result is good, I do look to make a sale from it. Ever since I was quite small, my goal was to be a writer, and the ideal was to make a living doing what I love to do. It took time, it took practice, it took a great deal of work to reach the point where I could indeed make a living writing (I am a writer and editor as a full-time profession, employed by an academic institution, and I also do freelance writing on the side, as a kind of moonlighting... with a goal of eventually being a full-time freelancer). Most of my wages are the result of nonfiction writing (journalism, travel essays, press releases, etc.), but occasionally there is a sale of fiction or poetry. I hope to eventually reverse that trend.

And so I operate on the philosophy of following my bliss. Do what I love and the money will, eventually, follow. So that I can spend even more time following that bliss. It may be a gradual process, to reach the point where I can subsist on freelancing alone, but as long as I keep it as a goal--that point on the horizon where my eyes are always focused--then there is no reason I can't make a living in a manner that brings me creative joy.

Zee

Joseph753
04-10-2012, 01:43 AM
This question has bugged me for a while. I've always heard that "writers write" and I try to write everyday, but without having sold anything yet I don't feel like a real writer. When I write I feel like I have moved a mountain, but without that official sale I feel like I'm just a writing daydreamer.

Does anyone else deal with these feelings? Does writing in itself give you satisfaction or do you not feel satisfied until your work is sold?

As for myself, I find it rewarding to write; however, apart from my personal journal -- which I've been keeping for 30 years or so -- I find in myself the motivation to write primarily in hopes of (eventually) getting at least a few readers for my writing.

Actually, without making much effort to get my writing picked up by a regular publisher, I resorted to self-publishing a couple of books -- of course, with minimal sales. But I'm still writing -- it's important to me.

Mr. Anonymous
04-10-2012, 06:25 AM
I write because I want to be read.

If I knew I'd never be read, I probably wouldn't write (at least, not as much as I do.)

For me, the money aspect has two dimensions.

1. If I'm getting paid, chances are good that more people are reading me than if I'm not getting paid.

2. From a practical standpoint, I am spending time writing that I could be spending on other things. Getting some kind of monetary compensation for that time, while not the most important thing in the world, is nice. It would let me do things (in life) I might not otherwise have a chance to do, which in turn would feed back into my writing.

Filigree
04-10-2012, 04:22 PM
It takes time to develop one's skills from hobbyist to professional. I was a book artist and textile artist for 14 years before landing an art rep who now places my work with university special collections libraries and private collectors. I'm a minor player in that sub-genre of art, but I have a modest following. I'm still learning my craft, and always will be.

I didn't sell my first short story until almost 12 years after I began writing, followed by two more last year (24 years after starting!) My fifth mms is being considered by an e-publisher this month. I'm finally to the point where my writing *might* be a money-making endeavor. I've had the luxury of not expecting it to pay my bills for two decades, so I could play and hone my abilities.

I've always considered myself a writer, unpublished or not, just as I've always considered myself an artisan. Getting paid is wonderful, having fans and collectors a delight - but I'd still write and make art, not matter what.

Phaeal
04-10-2012, 05:31 PM
Brrrr, that frisson when I walked in was a sure warning that a necro thread prowled the forums. It's a "lively" one, too -- why, it's even made its way into Goals and Accomplishments, all kind of broad and Round Table-y as it seems under that eldritch coat of mould and grave-detritus. God only knows what its nefarious purpose may be....

Veddy veddy scary.

As for the ancient query it moans: If the writing itself doesn't give you satisfaction, consider another career or avocation. You have no guarantee of anything except the work itself.

Mr. Anonymous
04-11-2012, 02:18 AM
As for the ancient query it moans: If the writing itself doesn't give you satisfaction, consider another career or avocation. You have no guarantee of anything except the work itself.

See, this is something I don't really get. I mean I get it but I don't quite get it.

To me, writing without the ultimate aim of someday being read is like talking to yourself. Sure, if you like doing it, go for it. We all do plenty of things just cause we happen to like doing them.

But, to me, most of what is *important* about writing is in common with most of what is important about communication in general--ie, being listened to, engaging in dialogue, in the exchange of ideas and stories and meanings.

If having your words read is not on some level your aim, then I just don't understand why writing would matter to you more than say, watching television, or playing golf. Or drinking a nice wine.

Now, maybe it doesn't have to matter in a special way. But to me, there is something odd about saying: writing a book matters about as much as eating a pear (I'm a big fan of pears.)

brainstorm77
04-11-2012, 03:19 AM
Both are important to me. *shrugs*

Debeucci
04-11-2012, 07:03 AM
This is just me personally. I never tell anyone I'm a writer. I say I'm writing a book or I'm trying to become a writer. For me, writers are paid to write.

And definitely not say I'm an author, because an author is a writer who published a book.

And really this is just personal milestones. When I was acting, I didn't tell people I was an "actor" until someone paid me to do it.

Joseph753
04-11-2012, 08:57 AM
Posted by Mr. Anonymous: "But, to me, most of what is *important* about writing is in common with most of what is important about communication in general--ie, being listened to, engaging in dialogue, in the exchange of ideas and stories and meanings."

I agree basically with this viewpoint, although I write a personal journal almost exclusively for my own satisfaction -- including the fact that I can consult my journal about what I was doing, what was happening in my life, etc. years (or decades) ago.

Other than writing a journal or diary, I'd say that my principle reason for writing is my hopes for getting it read -- someday, somehow.

Araenvo
04-11-2012, 04:04 PM
This is just me personally. I never tell anyone I'm a writer. I say I'm writing a book or I'm trying to become a writer. For me, writers are paid to write.

And definitely not say I'm an author, because an author is a writer who published a book.

And really this is just personal milestones. When I was acting, I didn't tell people I was an "actor" until someone paid me to do it.

Completely agree. There aren't many other professions you can just declare for yourself. 'Art and heart' arguments (I'm a writer because I want to be / You don't need to be paid to be a writer, it's in our soul...) never really convinced me. Once you make some money - any money, really - from writing, it's a different matter in my mind.

I actually do make my living as a writer at the moment, but not fiction - so I don't call myself an author (yet!) but I'm happy calling myself a writer and then explaining, if others care, what I write and who for.

Soccer Mom
04-11-2012, 06:47 PM
Good discussion. Not sure how this originally ended up in G&A when it really is a Roundtable sort of thread. Of course, the Roundtable did not exist back then. Hard to believe, I know.

I'm stealing this thread.

Shh. Everyone be really quiet and maybe they won't notice we've taken the thread to play with.

gothicangel
04-11-2012, 07:31 PM
If having your words read is not on some level your aim, then I just don't understand why writing would matter to you more than say, watching television, or playing golf. Or drinking a nice wine.



It's creative expression. Personally, I don't understand people who write with their only aim being publication [not going to say 'selling' in these days e-publishing and free downloads.]

The way I think of it, is that it would be *nice* to be published, but I'm not basing my life on it. If I can't interest a publisher, then that's fine, I enjoyed writing the books, and I enjoy reading back over them. I'll keep writing them.

And really, as much as I love writing, it isn't any more important to me that spending a Saturday afternoon walking a stretch of Hadrian's Wall, an evening in a cinema, or a nice meal out.

I certainly wouldn't say there is anything wrong with people who write just for themselves. I'd actually say that it's a great attitude to have. :)

Jamesaritchie
04-11-2012, 08:22 PM
As for the ancient query it moans: If the writing itself doesn't give you satisfaction, consider another career or avocation. You have no guarantee of anything except the work itself.

There's no guarantee any business is going to turn a dime of profit. Starting any new business always means there no guarantee of anything except the work.

But believing it's a business that will make you a lot of money is more than enough reason to try, whatever you think of the work itself. People need to earn a living, and better to earn one working for yourself than for someone else. Even if the work isn't satisfying, being your own boss, and making enough to live on doing so, is.

I have no problem with a writer writing for pure pleasure, who doesn't even submit whatever he writes, but I think most are fooling themselves. If you continually submit, you probably believe selling is important, and if you submit for a long time, and then stop, pleasure is just an excuse for stopping.

I sure don't believe for a second that anyone has to write, or that they'd die if they couldn't write. To me, that's a slap in the face of the millions of people out there who pretty much have to live without food, shelter, or the likelihood of being killed before sunrise. Somehow, they manage to muddle through, and probably never, ever tell a neighbor, "All this disease, starvation, and constant threat of being killed is bad enough, but Thank God I have a pencil and paper. I couldn't live without being able to write."

Anyway, I suspect writing and selling do go hand in hand. If you write well enough, money is almost automatic. If you don't write well enough, you'll probably stop sooner or later.

gothicangel
04-11-2012, 09:12 PM
I've been thinking about this.

As well as writing, I play the guitar but have no desire to play in public, I enjoy drawing, but don't imagine for a second that anyone would pay 50p for my work.

So why is writing so different?

dangerousbill
04-11-2012, 09:12 PM
Does anyone else deal with these feelings? Does writing in itself give you satisfaction or do you not feel satisfied until your work is sold?

I get satisfaction from the writing itself as well as the members of my critique groups. But to tell the truth, there's no thrill quite like getting a copy of my own book in the mail, or seeing a listing online.

Be patient. It took me ten years.

Araenvo
04-12-2012, 05:38 PM
I've been thinking about this.

As well as writing, I play the guitar but have no desire to play in public, I enjoy drawing, but don't imagine for a second that anyone would pay 50p for my work.

So why is writing so different?

That... is actually a very good point. Hmm. May have to do some rethinking of my own position. I play drums and piano but I do that only 'cause it's fun (and noisy). Personally I want to make writing my living, but never wanted to be a musician. I guess I wouldn't call myself a musician, either - I'd say 'I play a little...' etc.
Maybe writing, and being a writer, are different things in my mind

Toothpaste
04-12-2012, 06:22 PM
I've been thinking about this.

As well as writing, I play the guitar but have no desire to play in public, I enjoy drawing, but don't imagine for a second that anyone would pay 50p for my work.

So why is writing so different?

But some DO play the guitar in hopes of playing in public, and some do draw in the hopes of making a sale.

Just as some write to be published and read.

It all depends on the individual. I act and write professionally, I play the piano and guitar for kicks. It's not all or nothing.

Mr. Anonymous
04-12-2012, 10:06 PM
It's creative expression. Personally, I don't understand people who write with their only aim being publication [not going to say 'selling' in these days e-publishing and free downloads.]

The way I think of it, is that it would be *nice* to be published, but I'm not basing my life on it. If I can't interest a publisher, then that's fine, I enjoyed writing the books, and I enjoy reading back over them. I'll keep writing them.

And really, as much as I love writing, it isn't any more important to me that spending a Saturday afternoon walking a stretch of Hadrian's Wall, an evening in a cinema, or a nice meal out.

I certainly wouldn't say there is anything wrong with people who write just for themselves. I'd actually say that it's a great attitude to have. :)

Sure, creative expression is great, and necessary for us as human beings. But we are inherently social creatures--and for this reason, to me, the highest form of creative expression is that which we share with others (or at the very least, strive to share with others.)

Cheesy, maybe, but I think great writing can change the (social) world. In a similar way that being a good person can. In the same way that being a good teacher can.

A nice meal out, or an evening at the cinema, or a walk along Hadrian's wall (while nice), being primarily selfish endeavors (I do not mean this characterization as a negative/criticism), do not change the social world in the manner I'm speaking of (IMO.) And these selfish activities (again, not a negative/criticism) don't fully actualize our creative potential as inherently social beings.

lolchemist
04-13-2012, 01:13 AM
Does writing in itself give you satisfaction or do you not feel satisfied until your work is sold?

Writing itself is good enough for me. If nobody buys my books I'll put them online for free. I don't care about the $$$ part. Not caring (that much) if I ever get published also gives me the luxury of writing whatever I want without the handcuffs of "But what if the agent/editor/publisher/reader/reviewer doesn't like this?"

But let's not lie, I'd LOVE to be published and if they tell me 'You need to change X,Y and Z,' I absolutely will. I can keep *MY* version of my book to myself and give the altered version to the publisher.

I think in your particular situation, you have every right to call yourself a writer. But everyone's personal definition is different so do whatever you feel most comfortable with. 'Aspiring published writer' sounds like a title that might suit you.

lolchemist
04-13-2012, 01:18 AM
If having your words read is not on some level your aim, then I just don't understand why writing would matter to you more than say, watching television, or playing golf. Or drinking a nice wine.

I have all these stories in my head. I have to get them onto paper and organize them and create something. I can't help it, it's like a compulsion.