The Myths and Realities of Being a Published Author). I loved ALL of your comments in response! Here are just a couple:
Medical suspense author, Dr. Richard Mabry said this: “James Scott Bell told a group I was in one time that the average writer would earn more as a greeter at Wal-Mart than from writing. Despite having two novels published, a third coming out soon, and a fourth on the way, I'd have to say I meet his definition of an average writer...doggone it.”
And historical author, Sarah Sundin commented: “I was able to calculate how much I earned for my three-book series. Just over $2 an hour. I made more slinging hamburgers at Carl's Jr in 1983. Royalty checks are pushing me closer to minimum wage, but I still haven't reached it . . . no, Oprah has not called.”
Eric W. Trant said: “My first royalty check for a story in a short anthology was less than $100. So there you go. Dinner's on me! The rich-and-famous writer!”
If not for the fame, the fortune, and the fantastic work hours, WHY do writers do it? Why do we work such long hours, why do we sacrifice so much, why do we keep at it day after day, year after year against such adversity and tight competition?
As one of my twitter friends once joked about the writing life, if writers want to do something easier, then they should take up neurosurgery.
What is it about publication and writing that appeals to so many of us?
There’s always the chance we can make it big.
Anything is possible if we work hard and long enough. With a little bit of talent, a little bit of luck, and the hand of Providence, anything can happen. Becoming a best seller isn’t impossible (and neither is winning the lottery).
Patricia W said this tongue-in-cheek in the comments of last week’s post, but there is a ring of truth to it: “Terry McMillan said her first royalty check for Waiting to Exhale was like $2M. Needless to say, most authors don't earn anything near that, but the possibility does exist. Wouldn't want to kill the dream by being too firmly planted in reality.”
We long to communicate what’s inside us with others.
Whether non-fiction, fiction, memoir, or otherwise, writing is a medium in which we communicate deeply with other human beings. We can encourage, entertain, teach, help, etc. Whatever our goal in our writing, we long for our words to be digested by others, for them to experience them the way we intended.
Since the release of my book, I’ve realized just how much I appreciate hearing from readers—hearing how my book impacted them, or how they stayed up late reading it, or cried at the end. Knowing my words connected with someone and moved them makes all of the hard work and heartache worth it. It truly does.
Writing feeds our souls.
Karen Walker said this about the money she’s making from her writing: “It won't feed anyone, but the writing feeds me and hopefully, those who read it.”
We were made to create—whether through art, music, inventions, ideas, hobbies, or through stories and the written word. There’s a place in all of us that longs to express ourselves, and when we do, we find something deeply satisfying and fulfilling about the process. The creative act nourishes and replenishes us.
The love of writing consumes us.
In today’s market, publication isn’t easy, (both before and after). There’s no guarantee of making it big, communicating with readers, or even feeding our souls. Sometimes with the amount of time and energy we put into writing, the quest can even begin to drain us.
Roni Loren said, “The only people who should get in to this field are those who simply just love to write.” And Sarah Sundin summed it up well with the rest of her comment, “I love writing, must write, can't not write! The fact that anyone's willing to pay me at all is a major blessing and a deep honor.”
Ultimately, when it’s all said and done, those who stick with writing for the long haul are those who are consumed with a passion for it. We’re in love with telling stories and spinning words, and would do it anyway, whether paid or not.
What about you? Which of the reasons I listed above best describes your motivation for writing? Are there any other reasons why people write or pursue publication?