Monday, May 2, 2011
Liz's Lair: When Writing Gets Too Hard
Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. – Gene Fowler
OMG! That is so true. Initially, I had a hard time with this title and the subject matter. At first glance, it sounds like I need some cheese with my whine, but trust me, it isn’t meant that way. I love being a writer, love that my stories come to life on the page. It’s just that it’s not an easy job. I’ve said it many times before that writing is not for sissies.
I have a good friend who decided to put her pen down (actually she writes on the computer, but this sounded better) a few years ago. She said her heart had gone out of it. She had two stories written, both of which had garnered a potload of rejections.
Now, I know you’re thinking, “Put your big girl panties on and toughen up, sister. We’ve all been there –done that.”
And I can’t say I disagree. Still, it is disheartening to know how much work we put into our stories only to find out NO ONE is interested in them.
Which brings me to another thing. How many more times can I hear someone ask me what I’m planning to do with all the money I have now that I’ve sold my book?? Excuse me?? Patiently, I tell them that’s not the way it happens nowadays in today’s economy. That only about 200 of all the writers in the world make enough to quit their day job. (I have no idea where I heard that, so I can’t verify it with 100 % accuracy, but it sounds right to me.) Most writers are considered midlist and that brings anywhere from 0 to 20 grand advance per book unless you have several books under your belt.
Let’s take a hard look at that. Assuming an author gets $5000 per book which is pretty much the norm for a debut author, the break down numbers are downright scary.
It takes me 6 months to write a book (I’m pathetically slow) and another 2-3 to edit and get it sent out to beta readers. That’s 32 weeks, assuming there are no 5 week months in there.
Again, assuming I get 5 grand per book-------are you doing the math with me?? That comes out to $156 a week.
Are you freakin’ kidding me?? That doesn’t even factor in all the time and money spent promoting and keeping up with my craft by going to conferences and networking with other writing professionals.
I’m beginning to understand why my friend chose to give it all up. She says she’s not a spring chicken (welcome to my world) and she’s not sure she wants to work this hard anymore. Again- been there-done that. I remember telling my agent she had to hurry up and sell me before I kicked the bucket.(No pressure, Christine.) It worked, BTW.
So, I guess all this ranting and raving is for me today. I’m in between books and ready to begin Book 3 (Beginnings are always hard for me.) I know I’ll never be able to retire on my writing income, so why do I knock myself out?
The same reason you do. Let’s face it, if we didn’t love writing so much, we could all go down to Wal Mart and be greeters and make a helluva lot more money…and get health insurance as a beni!!
So, I’ll end the depressing stuff and close with this funny quote I found on the Internet.
If writers were good businessmen, they’d have too much sense to be writers. – Irvin S. Cobb.
I say, “Amen, brother...and pass the food stamps!!”
Can you guys out there please add your two cents? Am I a lone whiner???