Let’s Make Some Money, Honey
True admission: the amount of money I’ve made as a writer over the last decade is probably enough to buy a couch and a love seat. Or maybe one of those cool Rainbow swing sets. (But not one of the SUPER cool ones. One of the medium cool ones.) Just last night my husband and I went out to dinner with a bunch of couples in our neighborhood and the whole “So how much money do you make on that novel thing?” came up (and it comes up surprisingly often–just about as often as people who tell me they’ve also written a novel and would like me to read it) and when the meagerness of my vague, nonspecific answer was revealed, one woman said:
“Well why in the world would anybody write a novel then?”
(Don’t get me going on the reaction I get when people find out I edit Irreantum for free!)
When I started out as a fiction writer, I honestly had no intention or expectation of making ANY money. I wrote for the love of it, and the idea of getting published in a magazine someday–even without payment, even if only thirteen people ever read the dang thing–seemed to me to be wholly adequate. Well, even more than wholly adequate. It seemed to me to be absolutely thrilling. I’ve been surprised over and over again when people seem so disappointed for me over my lack of writing-generated income. (Sometimes I feel like saying, “Hey, congrats on finishing the Salt Lake Marathon. How much money did they give you when you crossed the finish line? None? Seriously? So why d’ya do it then?” But that would be seriously catty and unbecoming, and I’m all about being uncatty and becoming.)
So my question for you: How do you approach writing and earning a living? Given the gender definitions in Mormon culture, is the expectation to earn a living with your writing–or at least buy a swing set–even more weighty for men? (I’m guessing yes.) In what ways have you managed to turn your experiences as a writer into cold hard cash, either directly or indirectly?
And speaking of cold hard cash: Enter the Irreantum Fiction Contest and/or the Charlotte and Eugene England Personal Essay Contest. The deadline is May 30th. You could win some money, honey!