I don’t read a lot of blogs, but when someone I know and like has a new post, I read it right away. And then there are the ones by people I don’t know well, or by total strangers, that I can’t resist. Some have fascinating/funny/unique titles, others are about writing, publishing, and/or reading. But there is one subject title I wouldn’t click on for money. And believe me, at this supremely broke point in my life there are few things I wouldn’t do for money (you can make up your own pervy shortlist in your head). But the gist of the posts I avoid is:
NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU HOPE AND DREAM AND WORK AT IT, YOU WILL NEVER — I REPEAT, NEVER — MAKE ENOUGH MONEY TO LIVE ON AS AN AUTHOR
Now, some people were just born to be killjoys. Others actually think they’re doing people a favor. Still others think they are the fount of knowledge in the publishing world and every word from them is golden.
The thing is, doing that is like back when Simon Cowell was on American Idol, telling some not-very-professional singer they will never ever ever ever sing anywhere, for anyone, for any amount of money or even free. They stink. They should never open their mouth. They should go find a hole and hide in it, or if one isn’t available, dig one themselves.
Maybe he didn’t realize he was being mean. Unlikely. He’s a smart guy, so it was probably more a ratings thing. Lots of people got a kick out of him, well, kicking people. When they were down. Or if they weren’t down, knocking them down himself, then kicking them. Did we actually watch him do that, and laugh? Or at least not turn it off? Sigh. I watched, too, sad to say. But I didn’t like that aspect of the show. The reason, besides that it was mean and nasty and took his feeling of superiority to a nauseating place, is that I have friends who are in the music business. And I could picture him doing that to them. Maybe they’ll never win any Grammys. Maybe they’ll never even get a recording contract. Who knows? It’s a crazy business. But they’re loving the journey. It’s a blast. And yes, their lives revolve around it, their money is spent on it, with little return on that investment thus far. But, so what? People spend their money on all sorts of things they love, that will not lead to monumental careers or a Donald Trump tax bracket.
If you collect model trains, you won’t get rich off of it, but no one says to stop. If you’re fascinated by space exploration and spend money to go to Space Camp, no one says, you’re wasting your time and money—you’re not going to be an astronaut.
And, getting closer to the subject that started this post … If you’re an artist and you create paintings or sculptures or performance art that you consider unique and awesome, with profound meaning, but some people see it as cockamamie bs, the art world as a whole doesn’t say, NO MATTER WHAT YOU THINK,YOU WILL NOT MAKE A LIVING OFF OF YOUR CREATIONS! They know you probably won’t. But they also know there’s a small possibility that you will. They also know that it doesn’t matter. BEING an artist matters to you. Creating something from your own mind and hands matters. The total rush of creating matters. The inspiration you feel when dreaming and hoping and seeing, in your mind’s eye, a cool future of gallery openings matters. Even if they don’t happen, they matter. Because this moment matters. Because that inspiration matters. Because your confidence in what you’re creating, even though it rises and falls as if with the tides, matters.
And when someone tries to drill it into your head that, no way will you EVER make a living at this, even if your book is fabulous, even if you become famous and successful, so you’d better plan on forever having a regular job along with your writing, or push Grandpa down the stairs for the inheritance money, or SOMETHING … that spark of confidence and dreaming and hoping and the sheer enjoyment of all that fades a little. Or a lot. Or flickers. Or just dies out.
So, no, I don’t read those blog posts about writing and its inevitable lack of financial success. And not just because I grew up blue collar at best, and my idea of financial success is probably light years from that of people who grew up middle class.
I don’t read them because I can’t imagine why I should. Because I see them as counter-productive. Because I don’t need anyone stomping on my confidence before I even get started. Because … well, just because.
Someone WILL be the next Amanda Hocking. There are so many self-pubbed writers out there that, even if I scrape together enough money for cover art, figure out how to format even though the instructions appear to have been written in hieroglyphics, and self-publish my thriller, the odds are against it being me. Or you. Or a zillion others. But it will be someone. And you never know. It. Just. Might. Be. Us. But whether it is or it isn’t, we should enjoy the hell out of the journey. We should believe. We should have a frakkin’ blast.
And maybe we shouldn’t go out of our way to find someone who wants to wipe that smile off our face. Because it belongs there, as long as we’re creating.