Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Oh, The Benefits!

Whenever someone asks me what I do for a living and I say, "I'm a writer," they get all starry-eyed and excited. "Oh, I've never met a writer before!" they say as they crush my hand in theirs, and I try to keep my eyes from watering.

I guess being a writer sounds like a glamorous occupation, second only to being a rock star or Oscar-winning Hollywood actress, and I have to admit, there are bits of it that are really fun. Like oh, for instance, getting to say, "I'm a writer."


But like any other career, writing is hard work and primarily involves the less-than-glamorous application of your behind to the chair, your fingers to the keyboard, and your brain in gear for many hours a day in order to get anything done.

Writing involves creativity, which is the fun part of it, but also many hours of research, constant education and learning, a good business sense, and many other less-fun things.

"Ah, but the royalties!" you say. "What about those big royalty checks? Surely THAT at least is glamorous."

Let's just say, most royalty checks are closer to allowing me to live in the fabled garret of nineteenth century fame than in a crystal palace with a yacht moored in the private lake in the back yard.

Case in point. I received a royalty check today for...anyone wanna guess?

Time's up.

Sixty-two cents.

Yup. Sixty-two cents.

Now, admittedly that's for a six-author anthology, so the royalties have to be split six ways. And also admittedly, it's for a HOLIDAY anthology and we're at the start of summer, so sales at this point aren't expected to be high for this book.

But still...anyone see me retiring to the Riviera on sixty-two cents? ;-)

"Okay," you persist, "so why do you write for a living, then?"

Good question.

Like most things in life that are worth anything, writing grabs you by the throat and won't let you go. It sucks you in with siren promises of wealth, fame, changing the world through your immortal prose. And once you get in deep enough to realize the unlikeliness of those things occurring...well, you've seen your name on that book cover and you're hooked. You're committed. You're addicted.

So, you keep struggling away at your day job, and in your "free" time you keep putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), writing in the eternal hope that THIS book will be the one to crack the bestseller list and put your name on everyone's lips.

Off I go to cash my sixty-two cent check and get...um...one sixth a cup of coffee, one fifth a gallon of milk, or maybe an entire candy bar. Woo hoo! And then, it's back to work and back to writing. Because after all of the above, there's still no career I'd rather be in. And maybe THAT'S the glamour of writing, eh?