Nathan Bransford, Author


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Would You Still Write If You Knew You'd Never Make a Cent?

Just a quick update that I am now back in the office in San Francisco after quite an incredible week in New York. The meetings! The weather! The food! The general sense of panic in the Financial District!

But as much as I fell in love with New York all over again, man oh man is it good to be back in the land of cool nights and driving to the grocery store. Ah, San Francisco, I thank you.

My Inbox could probably compete with Ben Bernake's at this point for sheer madness, so I'm afraid the query moratorium is still in effect. And yes, You Tell Me on a Tuesday - I'm going to go Coffee Talk on you and ask that you "talk amongst yourselves."

I'll give you a topic. Would you still write if you knew you'd never make a cent doing it? Would it change what you write and how you write?






181 comments:

Margaret Yang said...

I can guess how the responses will go on this question. Other "you tell me" questions have swung this way. It seems like most NB readers write for the love of it, and because we can't do otherwise.

I can answer this question definitively. Yes, I'd write for free--I did just that for ten years before I ever earned a dime from my writing, so I can say that yes I would--and I did.

Anonymous said...

Yes I would continue writing and Yes, I would write differently. Knowing I would not 'sell' my writing I would be more 'experimental/literary' in my writing and concentrate on seeking publication in literary publications. I do that now, but it is not my focus. I write primarily with an eye to 'commercial' literature...to get paid. If that isn't an option, then I am free to play in the fields of the lit mags, exclusively. To be published is the primary goal. Money or no money accruing. So knowing I would never make a cent for my writing would, in sense, be liberating.

Michael said...

I know that I would still write, but I probably wouldn't spend so much time doing it every day. Right now, I have the faith that my hard work -- many hours a day spent writing -- will pay off, and that it is just the price I have to pay right now to be successful in the future. If I knew that I would never make a cent with my writing, though, I'd have to spend that effort in getting a real job, since I don't want to be destitute my whole life. I would still try to find time to write, but probably just a half hour a day to work on a few short stories. I don't think I would have the gumption to tackle anything as big as a novel.

Evan said...

Yes, I would still write if I knew I would never make money, but I would probably write a lot less. I watch less TV now and use that time to write, so it's something I like to do in my spare time.

Nathan: I must apologize, I sent a query yesterday morning since you told us to wait a week. I did not know the query moratorium was still in effect.

Gwen said...

Of course I would write even if I knew I would never make a cent. :) Writing a specific goal of "I have to hand this in for grades" drives me mad - it is sheer drudgery, I tell you! - so I wouldn't want to impose the same sort limit on myself with my "fun" writing. Besides, if I wouldn't make a cent, I could be as dramatic as I wanted. (I tend to be a rather dramatic person.)

I write for the same reason I read - I need an escape. I need to believe that there is hope in this world, that there is faith and perseverance and resilience of the human spirit. Writing allows me to bring those aspects of human nature out and splay them upon a page for myself. I would still feel reassured and content, even if I never made a cent. :)

Chumplet said...

Well, I've made a few cents, if my last royalty statement is any indication.

My writers' group regularly issues writing challenges with random words, scenarios and pictures in order to sharpen our skills. We don't expect monetary rewards from such pieces, but they're valuable anyway.

Same with blogging. I do it because I enjoy it.

I have a friend who writes poetry. She refuses to show it to anyone, or to submit it. She does it for herself.

I paint as well as write, and I still can't bring myself to let go of a few of my paintings. They hang on my wall for my own and my family's enjoyment.

I expect to make money from writing in general, but I also accept that some pieces will never sit beneath a glossy cover.

Elton A.R. Alwine said...

Such an existential question...

Writing is the only thing I have that I'm proud of to date, so I'd have to say Yes, I believe I would write if people at least read my stuff...

Without discussion or taking something away from our work would make it meaningless.

Anonymous said...

I suppose so. Isn't that what I've been doing these last few years? In my case I've gained more from my writing than I ever expected to. Who knows, maybe that's all it's supposed to accomplish.

Would I like to be published? Absolutely. I'd like to have the opportunity to let others share my thoughts and insights, let my stories entertain, educate and inspire. If that doesn't happen...well, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

m clement hall said...

Would you still write if this was the cost?

A group of three "Islamic extremists" put a firebomb in the North London home of Gibson Square publisher Martin Rynja late Saturday night, and were promptly arrested by Scotland Yard in "a preplanned intelligence-led operation," according to a police spokesperson. (The company's offices are in the same building.) The Sunday Times says "the suspected terror gang was being followed by undercover police and the fire was quickly put out after the fire brigade smashed down the front door." The police believe Rynja was under attack for his company's decision to publish Sherry Jones's THE JEWEL OF MEDINA. Rynja is now "believed to be under police guard." Reportedly, Beaufort Books will close their office in New York today as a "precautionary measure."

Former lawyer and "follower of preacher of hate Abu Hamza" Anjem Choudhary tells a London paper, "Clearly this book is an attack on the honor of Mohammed. It is clearly stipulated in Muslim law that any kind of attack on his honour carries the death penalty. If the publication goes ahead then I think, inevitably, there will be more attacks like this. If this book is published I think the repercussions will be very severe for everyone associated with it."

Agent Natasha Kern tells the Times, "I honestly believe that if people read the book they will see it is not disrespectful of Muhammad, and moderate Muslims will not be offended. I don't want anyone to risk their lives but we could never imagine that there would be some madmen who would do something like this. I'm so sad about this act of terrorism. Moderate Muslims will suffer because of a few radicals."

Author Sherry Jones told Galleycat, "The planting of that bomb is Martin Rynja's letterbox was not about my book. It's not about the content of my book. It's not about the ideas in my book. It must be about the rumors and innuendos."

Kate H said...

I'd still write and I wouldn't change a thing. I don't slant my work for a paying market, which may be why it doesn't sell.

But I still think writers, like other artists, deserve to make a living! I wish something about the system could change so that would be the norm for professional-quality writers rather than the exception.

Tannat Madiran said...

I'd write. I need to. But I wouldn't have to bother with outside opinion, editorial minutiae, revision, and the like.

Plus I'd have to write a bit less unless I could get one of those cush 3rd shift security jobs where i just sit at a desk and write all night, while being paid...

Anonymous said...

Yay, Nathan's back!

And, no, I wouldn't write, but I know I'm in the minority on this. It seems others have a purer outlook. The "journey being more important than the destination" and all that.

I want to be published. I really do. It makes me feel bad when others always seem so much more about the "art" of it than about selling or making money.

Of course, I do think half of them are lying, so maybe I just don't lie very well.

Good to have Nathan back, isn't it?

Val said...

You betcha, I'd continue to write. As others have mentioned, I've been writing without financial reward for SOME TIME NOW. I'd continue to do so for the fun of exploring the varied lives and worlds in my mind.

You can also bet that there would be changes. If I weren't angling for professional publication, I'd play more. I'd indulge in a wider, more varied range of stories. Mystery, fantasy, children's, paranormals, westerns...Right now I focus on children's (mid-grade and YA) so I can "stick with one genre" while dabbling in the mystery, fantasy, etc. which can all be included under the "children's" umbrella. ;) Such is my hope, at least.

And, I'd also have less time to devote to writing.

Jackee said...

I can't help but think about all the great literature that has come out of times of economic crisis, whether individual or society-wide. Oddly, they're some of my favorite authors.

Those who write generally can't stop themselves, it's a creative outlet almost necessary for most of us.

So, yes, I would still write. But I think the content would be very different--more despairing and jaded. :)

NarcolepsySucks said...

I would continue writing. I would write less frequently because my current pace has the goal of earning money directly tied to it.

Funnily enough, as I think about it, I would probably write more like I did when I was younger and didn't know most of the rules of standard fiction. If I knew that money was taken out of the equation and that I was just writing for myself, and hopefully my readers, I could happily throw the rules that I don't like to the wind and merrily continue on my way.

I think most of the answers here would be the same if the question was changed to "Would you still write if you were rich beyond comprehension?"

Anonymous said...

I want to be read. money? What the hell is that? I think so there-fore I write. The short of it is Yes. I would and I do write for free. Do I want to publish not only YES but Hell Yes as they say in Texas. Still plugling away.

Dan said...

NO.

I would not work for free and I would not write knowing I would never profit from the effort. Writing is a labor and I expect to be compensated [eventually] for my trouble.

If I knew I would never be paid, I would devote my time to my other, more social, and less time consuming) hobbies - athletics, drinking beer, and photography.

Josh said...

I would. Writing, while a hoped-for career and all, is a way for me to escape and get away from the world for a while. I love doing it, love creating the worlds and characters, and wouldn't stop even if I knew I'd never go anywhere with it. Differently? Sure. I wouldn't make myself write every day, for one thing. Relax a bit, and not worry about the length. But until that oracle of doom enters my life, I'll keep on plugging.

Scott said...

I'm a performer at heart and thrive off "connection" to an audience, so it would be important that my writing is read. If that confines me to posting on my blog and reaching a smattering of interested folks, than yes, I still would.

I get lots of ideas, but what gets me really excited enough about one of them to invest the time to flesh it out is knowing that I can share it. That's what's most important.

Concurrently, I would probably make my own film to see if that would supplant or complement my current livelihood. But if that avenue is inclusive to the question as well, again, I've always made art for free and probably will do it in some form or another for the rest of my life.

Oh, and welcome back.

JK said...

I would still write so long as I knew my friends were still interested in reading my stories. If I were alone on a desert island I would keep a journal in case anyone ever found it. It's the idea of having a record of a life spent that originally made me want to be a writer.

However it is demoralizing to feel like you are not an incredibly unique snowflake, to feel like there are a million other people out there trying to sell their work the same way you are, and there's a million readers out there who aren't going to read anything but what they see advertised on TV, or in the New York Times Book Review.

I guess I wouldn't spend as much time on it if I didn't hold out a tiny bit of hope. Then again, writing is also an excellent way to kill time.

Karen McQ. said...

I would, and I do. Heh.

Other Lisa said...

Would I still write? Yes. Would my writing change? No.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

With all the promotion/travel I'm doing for my first book, it's likely I'll lose money on it.

I'm almost done with my second. Does that answer your question?

AR said...

To be honest, I would still write because I'm impelled to do so, but I know I would write very differently. I would not be thinking about market considerations so I would give my own tastes far more consideration. I would write with romantic fervor. I would describe, evoke, and ponder, with as many words as I thought I needed to color in the corners of my thought. And I would be far more explicitly religious.

My main reason for seeking to be published is the money. I would definately self-publish otherwise. The reason is that I'm female and as such I'm more interested in tying together my own circle of aquaintance with my writing than I am in becoming widely famous.

How do I know this about myself?

Well, when I was a teenager I used email to "publish" humorous stories about church events and family adventures. I loved it when I got delighted responses from people I actually knew, and when they told other people to "subscribe" it was even better. I can't imagine the approval of strangers, or vast sale numbers, ever meaning as much.

And I've never been able to be funny and write tight at the same time. My brand of humor depends upon wordiness.

DCS said...

I'm unpublished but I haven't submitted my close-to-being-finished novel yet. Since I started writing when I finally had the time to spend on it I have the luxury to be an amateur in the literal sense. Publication would be vindication of my (small) talents and (big) work ethic.

Steph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thomas Dowler said...

I don't think it's about making money but rather about receiving general recognition (from someone other than your mother) that what you have written is relevant / powerful / entertaining / valid / etc.

If I *knew* I would never get published then I would never write another word. That doesn't mean I don't write for the love of writing, because I do - I have an irrepressible itch to scratch - but the worst thing about writing is never knowing how good or bad your writing is.

And I, like Evan above, queried yesterday before I realized the moratorium had been extended. And there was me looking forward to the famous Bransford instant response....

Steph said...

People tell you that if you want to know what you "should" be doing, then find what you'd love to do. Discover what you'd do for free, and then find a way to make money doing it.

I do write without pay because I can't shut up.

But I would also, if I could and didn't need the dough, copyedit and consult for free. I just love doing it. In fact, I have done it for free, many times.

nona said...

"Would you still write if you knew you'd never make a cent doing it? Would it change what you write and how you write?"

Nobody's ever going to make a cent in the market either, so what the f*** difference does it make? Even the shorts have been cut off at the knees. lol.

That's why I write for myself. It's the one thing in the world I can count on. Always has been, always will be.

Steph said...

PS. Hey Nathan,

All roads lead to you, it seems! This time, I was looking up what to do when an agent says yes and was directed to Anastasia Suen's blog, which posted half of Ginger's post on what she expects from an author when she offers to represent them. To find out why I had to click on a link...

...which of course brought me here, and to Ginger's guest post.

Huh. It's a good sign.

Jody Mabry said...

I don't think I could do anything else, much to the chagrin of my employers. Although I imagine when they see me walking around with a notebook they think I may be "working." Jeez, I hope they don't read this. Mostly I write because everyone says I talk too much, so to save them the agony I will always hae pen and paper in my hand.

Anonymous said...

I like to think about it more like:

If you won the lottery and had a million dollars and no obligation to work, would you still write?

And yes, I believe there are these fun, juicy projects that come out of our creative psyches and, sometimes, out of the collective unconscious and,like our ancestors, we need to tell our stories around the fire, dance them, act them out, animate them.

Starving Artist said...

I just received my latest royalty statement. I'm in fact writing and not making a cent.

But at the moment I have a wonderful idea. The character is talking and I can't wait to write.

Maybe all writers just need meds. 'Cause this "got to write" stuff can't be normal.

Dara Sorensen said...

I would continue writing even if I never make a cent on it. As many have said already, it's the love of words and of the story that makes me keep writing. Even if no one but family and friends read it, it's definitely worth it for me. I probably wouldn't change the way I write, either.

Of course the goal is to ultimately get the story published, and I'll work as hard as I can to get make sure it is out on the bookshelves someday.

nona said...

Ms. Cristina drives a nine four four
Satisfaction oozes from her pores
She keeps rings on her fingers
Marble on her floor
Cocaine on her dresser
Bars on her doors
She keeps her back against the wall
She keeps her back against the wall

So I say
I say welcome, welcome to the boomtown
Pick a habit
We got plenty to go around
Welcome, welcome to the boomtown
All that money makes such a succulent sound
Welcome to the boomtown

- david & david

m clement hall said...

Qutation from Theodore Isaac Rubin:

The process of writing a book is infinitely more important than the book that is completed...the book is merely a symbol of the writing...the process is the product.

I suggest that anyone who does not derive some form of satisfaction from the writing itself is on his way to disappointment.

Anonymous said...

Just curious...are you trying to tell us something? Do you have really bad news from NY? Is the market so bad that authors are no longer going to be paid for their work? Do we now have to accept pay in beans and rice instead of cold hard cash? :)

Katie Alender said...

Aah, maybe. I spend a lot of time and energy quilting without making a profit. But you can give someone a quilt as a gift, and they're usually happy to get it. A manuscript is, in most cases, harder to share.

There's more at stake than money, though. I like the fact that my writing will make people think, entertain them, challenge them, change them. Would I still get that stuff?

JES said...

Agent Jennifer Jackson asked the same question, kinda, on her blog last week: "I wonder, what makes a person look at those odds [viz., against publication] and take the shot anyway?"

She got four pages of comments in reply. Hope your comments Inbox is at least as big as your queries Inbox. :)

Lupina said...

I know that I would still write even if the money permanently stopped coming, because I have always written, even before I thought it could ever be a career. What I write would change, yes...I would focus on the fun stuff. By that I mean things closest to my heart rather than what my publishers want to sell. (I have to add, though, that even my make-a-living writing jobs still beat the old 9-5, so I hope I'm never faced with that problem)

Lady Glamis said...

Ah, well, crap - I already sent you a query. I apologize!!!! I'll patiently wait for you to get through your inbox.

Yes, of course I would still write if I knew I'd never make a cent. I've been doing it my whole life so far, so I might as well keep going.

I write to live. I live to write. And do other stuff to make money.

Now that doesn't mean I OBJECT to making a cent here and there . . .

Once again, Mr. Bransford, sorry for adding to the pile in your inbox.

JES said...

Anonymous @ 10:02 --

It seems others have a purer outlook... It makes me feel bad when others always seem so much more about the "art" of it than about selling or making money.

I don't know about this -- your understanding of everyone's motives here. Some people talk about the art, yes, but it seems many more people talk about the compulsion.

Now that I think about it, the original question sort of answers itself if you replace references to writing-in-general with references to blogging. Out of a zillion bloggers, few of whom are pros, as much as they'd love to make money from it, I doubt that's why they do it.

Precie said...

Yes, I would. I do, more often than not. And I write literary fiction so it's highly unlikely I'd make much money from writing anyway.

Lisa Meltzer Penn said...

How could any of us not?

Just for fun, and to tie in with your NYC trip, Nathan, if any of your readers want to visit my blog, I've just extended the deadline for a "Favorite Sandwich Contest" after I found myself reminiscing about Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop in NYC. Please tell me at least one of your lunches was there?
-Lisa Meltzer Penn
www.LisaMeltzerPenn.com
Lisameltsherpenn@blogspot.com

Hattie said...

Of course I would! I don't do it for the money in the first place! ;-)

Kristine Overbrook said...

I'd write if I never made a cent. As it stands now, everyone in my family is sure I'll never get published. (I think it's an extention of the "winning the lottery could never happen to someone I know" syndrome)

Being published isn't about the money for me. I just want others to enjoy what I write. I don't have any money so I have to have someone else print it. :)

Elyssa Papa said...

Since I'm doing it anyway right now, yes.

Margay said...

I started writing stories long before I realized there was a term for what I was doing - writing. I am still writing, all these years later (I won't say how many) and still haven't earned a cent from it, so the answer to that question for me is Yes. And I will keep on writing because it makes me happy to do so. I write the type of stories I want to read and will continue to do so.

Janine said...

I would still write, of course. Like many who've commented, I'm still working toward that far-off compensation goal. Still, I am writing now with the idea of selling it someday...if I were writing just for myself, I might worry less about how perfect the piece is and just tell the damn story already. In the end though, I think the financial motivation will make me a better writer.

Louis said...

Let's see... I do write and I never make a cent! So the question is would I continue to do it. It has been with great aspiration that I have always wanted to tell stories, and though I had wished that one day it could support an income, I don't think that I could be deterred from doing it.

Here's the catch though. I'd write less. Alot less. One does have to worry about his financial future and I think that unless my writing was going to change the world for the better or benefit someone other than the self, I'd be forced to put it on the back burner.

Jay Montville said...

Yes, I would still write, and no, it wouldn't change what I write. I'm not an experimental writer--my stuff is pretty "commericial" (not because I try to make it commercial, but because that is my natural style), so the fact that I wouldn't get paid for it wouldn't result in many changes to it.

pillywiggin said...

The simple answer to this question is, yes. Yes I would.

Why? Because I'm an escapist, and if I don't escape reality through writing, I'll do it through reading (which I do anyway.) I enjoy writing. I enjoy bringing people and places to life, to viewing the world through the eyes of others.

Being published and making money would be all well and good, and is my goal, but it's not crucial. I started writing when I knee high to a grasshopper, before I even knew what publishing was.

Let's face it. Sanity suffers when there isn't writing.

lotusloq said...

Welcome back! Your humor and pithy comments have been truly missed. (Sorry, I'm feeling very passive!)

I'll just jump right on the "I'd write no matter what!" bandwagon. I would probably do more poetry though. I'd also probably just publish to a blog in installments kind of a chapter by chapter thing and that would result in less revision.

Not The Rockefellers said...

Absolutely. Because I have to.

Peace - Rene

Liza Knight said...

Yes, I too would still write though I would focus on other mediums such as the blog, fanfiction perhaps, and other things that could cure my desire to be creative and share stories with the world.

Anonymous said...

Of course. Don't be ridiculous. We'd all write if we didn't get paid.

NP said...

I'd absolutely keep writing. The only thing that would change would be that I'd focus more on my fiction.

Big Plain V said...

Yeah, I'm pretty much there: writing all the time, years on end, no cashout. Good thing I like writing, no?

tamijean said...

An intriguing question, and some eye-opening answers!

Yes. Unquestionably.

I would, however, probably not be as 'good' at it. As motivated to improve my writing, as prone to agonize over length or pacing.

The possibility of the dream becoming reality pushes me to be a better author - someone whose work is worthy of being paid for and published.

I write because there are stories in my head that I'd like to read and have not yet been written.

I improve myself and my writing because I think other people might want to read those stories, too.

...I also keep my day job. *grins and winks*

naohama said...

Yes, I would still write, even as I anm a new commer libyan writer, actualy poet with a manuscript of a poetry collection.
I would still write even if I am a lost writer in a city I know no one in.
I would still write even if no money in the horizon lurking me.
I 4 writing and nothing else.

Candid Carrie said...

Lurker unveiled.

Found you via blogs of note, came back on my own free will.

Yes, I would write for free. I wrote for twenty five years just for fun because I had no place to go with any of it.

I wrote dirty poems and gifted them to friends. I made brochures for friends that weren't dating and told them to do a better job marketing themselves. "Here, hand these out when you meet new people. Sell yourself," I said with a smile.

I write for fun. I find it more entertaining to be a writer than it is to be a reader. Maybe I am not reading the right stuff.

I write for the reality check and the paycheck. I write for the health of it and for the hell of it.

Also, if I didn't write I would probably drink. You can't really make decent money when you are drunk all the time. Well, maybe you could but I couldn't. At least I don't think I could. I'll get back to you on that one.

Jeanie W said...

I'd still write even if I knew I'd never get paid for it. But that doesn't mean I'll ever stop trying to make a living at it. If I am paid for it, then I can afford to spend more of my time writing.

RachelB said...

I'm 98% certain that I will never make a cent writing anyway, so my answer is yes, I would write.

Sam Hranac said...

Of course. How many people can actually make a living from writing anymore? Even if the only benefit is improved skill and mental faculties, how can that be a bad thing... particularly when I enjoy the process.

DarkHeart said...

Yes; I would write if I weren't getting paid for it. Actually, that's what I do now. Blogs, a single parents' column, submissions to literary journals, collections of poetry, short stories, opinion articles...all gathering dust or making it slowly into the hands of open minds who devour words but don't have the means for which to pay for them. My life is writing. It is a love affair with words. It is equivalent to breathing. To stop is to die.

nomadshan said...

I'd still write, but I'd post everything online -- I'd still want to share my stuff.

Steppe said...

Long story short: Yes I write for pleasure.
Its like a really awesome drug. A quantum journey through the illusions of existence.

Considering trying to get published has lead me to be more thorough. I like short stories because very few stories are worth
250-500 single space pages. I can tell a good fleshed out story in 10-20 pages easy anyday. OK so I use caricatures and easy to recognize archtypes: why don't we just go dig up Shakespeare and slap him around a bit.
So considering the idea of trying to get published has caused me to be very considerate of the reader in terms of melody and lyrics of the reading pace. Reviewing and rereading
a novel length piece: at least five times very very very slowly. It hurts but when the piece is finished I know every last page has been scoured for fluidity and ease of reading without resorting to the popular rat ta tat short sentences that became popular.

I think you have to love the story and want it to be a part of your soul permanently. Then link that up with what Scott said above about performance value. The trust of the audience that you are a good guide for experience "X".

Content + Style + Passion + Professionalism = Good Novel

Thinking about getting published has changed my writing for the better but I would write no matter what. Some ideas occur but once and must be written down. Maybe occasionally they gather together into a real unique synthesis of the same old shite. Thats the prize.

Loren Eaton said...

Absitively. After all, it's what I'm doing now.

Bill Womack said...

I'd probably still write, even if nobody wrote me checks. Maybe I'd alter my style a little, experiment, be more "literary". Then again, maybe not. I could do that now and make about as much as I've made to date.

You didn't mention if we'd still get to have an audience. No money *and* no readers would definitely suck a big one. Would I still get groupies?

Wait, what? I wasn't going to get those anyway? As a great man once said, "throw me a frickin' bone here."

CNU said...

Yes and to the second question- No.


-C

AmyB said...

I'd still write if I knew I'd never make a cent. But not if I knew I'd never have readers.

Adaora A. said...

Chaos indeed. I hope a certain president is aware of the 'trickle down' affect that the economy he had a hand in creating is shooting up over here in Canada. My dad described it very well when he said, when US coughs, Canada sneezes.

Onto other things...

Welcome back! Glad to hear you had a great trip. I can only imagine how your inbox is creating threads of panic about you. Sory of like how I feel as I settle into term this university school year. Stuff is piling around me.

Now, onto "you tell me:"
I would definetly still write if I knew I wasn't going to make a dime. Writing isn't just about money. In a lot of ways, it's about purging your thoughts and a keen (if you're trying to get it published) desire to get you work out there. So most definetly, yes.

Furious D said...

That's pretty much what's been happening to me lately.

Crystal-Rain Love said...

Yes, I would. I wouldn't be as happy though (-;

We all want to do what we love for a living, and for me that is definitely writing. If only my royalty checks were bigger I could leave the day job behind and be so blissfully cheery!

Whirlochre said...

I'm torn.

Yes. But I'd probably end up telling the truth and, ultimately, shooting myself.

No. But I'd probably end up living a lie and, ultimately, shooting myself.

K.S. Clay said...

I would still write. I don't write to make money (although that would be nice). I write because I love stories and I love words and I have something to say. I seek publication because I want to entertain and to touch readers. It's not money. It's communication that's important to me.

Chris said...

Absolutely! My husband and I self-published our own book. What an experience! Our next book is going to be, "How To Invest Thousands in the Publishing Industry And Make Hundreds In Return". ; )

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Welcome home.

And yes. In fact, I've been discussing this very subject with two friends today.

I'm lucky enough that I don't need an income from writing. And, in fact, I'm planning to donate everything above my marketing expenses to a variety of charities.

Brad D. Green said...

Well, yes. I don't get paid now for writing. I work in the literary realm. No one reads that stuff anymore.

Marilyn Peake said...

Welcome back, Nathan. Just wondering, as someone has already asked in this thread: Is your question based on financial news you heard in New York?

I’ve been writing for years, and published by small press for five years. I’ve had periods where my books started selling quickly; then distribution channels dried up and I felt like quitting. A few weeks later, I was back to writing my next novel or short story. So I guess, if it ever became impossible to make any money from writing, I would still write. However, I would take longer breaks from it and balance my life better. I would cut back on advertising, though. I spent thousands of dollars and way too much time advertising my books before I truly understood how hard it is to sell small press books in any real quantity, especially when the financial markets are in turmoil. I’ve sold hundreds of copies of my books, even discovered that public and college libraries had my books on their shelves, and still the royalty payments were next to nothing. One other factor would make a difference for me if there would never be any payment: whether or not there were still high quality places to publish, even if they weren’t paying authors. I’m assuming there would be such places because there are quite a few of them now.

Sean Lindsay said...

If I knew I would not make a cent, not only would I not write, I would actively encourage others to not write, too.

Wait, I already do that.

"No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." -- Samuel Johnson

talon74 said...

I would still write. Something at least, even if only for my own amusement. I like telling stories, and writing them down is just one of the many ways available to do so.

Madison said...

Writing is in my DNA, so I can't give it up, whether I make money or not. Right now it's not, but I'm hoping that wil change. At any rate, I love it too much to quit. And what I write would't change. I write because I enjoy it and I love it and if you're doing something that you truly love and enjoy, you CAN'T quit.

Emily said...

Well...I write now and I'm not getting paid. I hope to one day be published and make some money but that hope alone is not what drives me. If it was, I probably wouldn't have spent all the time I have on my current ms.

Then again, if i knew i would absolutely never get a cent...that must mean i would never be published, and to be honest, I would be completely disappointed. But I think I would keep writing. I love writing, and I can't stop the stories from popping into my head. It might slow me down, because I would need to spend more time working, but i would never stop completely.

Frank Cole said...

I would definitely write and it would be different. Less worries about grammar and editing. I'm from the South daggone it. I spelt things differn't and liked it by golly!

Amy said...

I don't get paid now and write all the time. So I have three responses for you: yes, yes and YES!

Eric said...

The short answer: Yes.

The long answer: Yes, but I probably wouldn't continue to work on novels. I would spend my time on short fiction and poetry, which is what I write primarily (and for which I am usually not paid anyway).


E

Lizz Huerta said...

For me it is about the writing, not money or anything else. The one time I actually got a check for something I wrote framed it and put it on my wall.

Writing is what saves my head and heart from imploding. It is my joy and release. It is better than drugs, better than alcohol, and sometimes better than afternoon delight. I have a creative head and I have to write. Better to have a few closets full of unpublished manuscripts, journals and poems than to be crazy or accidentally dead.

A Paperback Writer said...

I've never yet made a cent writing fiction, so I guess it won't change much if I never do.

Troy Bierkortte said...

Most of us don't make any money at all from writing, but you know that I know that you know that we really want to.
But, just as so very few are able to earn great wealth - or even make a living - from writing, very few of us expect to.
I make a much better living from my day job than some full-time writers do from writing. I could quit writing and devote the extra time to my job. That would make financial sense. But it isn't about money. If I could ever earn a living at writing, the best part of that would be that it would free me to write more. It would reconcile my need to eat and my need to write.
But, you rarely see a writer retire from the craft. Dan Brown doesn't need to make any more money from this trade, but you won't see him giving it up to play golf, will you.
Maybe the more telling answer will come from the question, "would you still write if you knew you would never need to make a cent?"

cageyb said...

Of course.

Kim Haynes said...

Simple answer: I don't make a cent from my fiction writing now, and I still do it. I want to be published to share my ideas and my characters with other people; the money doesn't enter into that equation.

And welcome back, Nathan! We missed you!

writeidea said...

Yes, I'd still write if I knew I wouldn't make anything. Hey, I haven't been published yet, I have to say that.

Revisions are harder for me than writing, so if I knew I wouldn't ever make any money, I'd just write and not revise.

Nikki Duncan said...

In a heartbeat! It's the only way to get the stories and characters living in my head to go away. They make for entertaining dreams, but um a tad disturbing at times.

Welcome back. Glad you had a good trip.

Chris said...

I'd still write even if I knew I'd never make a cent, but I'd throw the rules out the window.

Chris

Erik Hedstrom said...

Yes I'd still write. I haven't made a cent yet from my writing. I write to maintain my sanity.

Gina Black said...

I would absolutely still write, but I'd probably be more self-indulgent and experimental.

Anonymous said...

When I stopped writing nonfiction, I stopped making money. The problem was a simple one -- my field was ephemeral and it marched away from me while I was doing something else -- such as fiction writing. My fiction collection now exceeds three dozen, and while some of it has sold, most of it has not. So for the rest of my life, and for as long as my children have a guilty conscience, my work will keep the dust off their shelves until they learn -- or at least become motivated -- to read.

Chris Redding said...

Yes, but it wouldn't be a priority.
cmr

Timothy Fish said...

There can be no doubt that writers will write the things we want to write, no matter what, but when writers are writing things that benefit others, they should be fairly commensated for their efforts.

Adam Heine said...

Heck, yes. The real question is would I write if I knew nobody would ever read it?

I think I just might. I want to be read, definitely, but I've never been able to not write.

JimCripps said...

Over 100 comments, so why should I bother? Because, I write to entertain myself. For that, I receive no pay, and it may go like that till the end.

jnantz said...

Yes, but I bet I'd focus more on Short Stories, simply because that rush of "the end" would come so much more often. And since it's just for me, I'd rather have that quick "fix" a LOT of the time.

But that's just me...

Beth Terrell said...

Yes, I would still write. I wouldn't change how or what I write, but I would be immensely sad.

LeeAnn Flowers said...

Absolutely. Since I have yet to sell a book, all my writing is done without knowing whether I'd make a cent. It does nothing to slow down any of my writing and really changes nothing.

the cardboard writings said...

As I've been writing for the past twenty years with absolutely ZERO publishing credits to my name, I'd have to say that I'm under no illusion as to whether I'll make any money off this gig. Yet, still I go on; I can't stop. I've tried, three or four times, to just give up; to not write at all and I just can't do it. So obviously, my answer is yes.

Kim Stagliano said...

Checking wallet. Empty. Yes.

J.P. Kurzitza said...

Of course I would. I started writing for my three boys. I wanted them to grow up with some cool stories that dad wrote. If I get picked up one day, great. If I don't, great. I've got many ideas, so "at worst", my boys will have plenty to read when they're older.

:D

Erik said...

I don't make a cent off my blog, but I keep it up 3 times a week.

I have something to say that you don't hear other places, and I have a large base of loyal readers. I write for them and for the ideas.

I think our world demands that people with something to say have a place to say it - regardless of this social thing called "money"

Websinthe said...

I'd write and make money off the public appearances.

I don't write for money, I write for meaning.

Jen Turner said...

Welcome back, Nathan. :)

Yes, I would keep writing. And under no circumstances would I change the way/or what I write.

Anonymous said...

So are we supposed to keep caving in to Islamic extremists? Stop writing and publishing and living and breathing for these nuts? Why? The more we cave, the sooner Shyria law comes calling.

I say write what you want. Political correctness and FEAR are what's ruining the publishing industry.(and the country.)

T.A. Northburg said...

Yes. I would still write because it is a part of me. If I never sell a single thing I at least will have something to pass on to my kids so they remember who I am and what I think about things. It would not change how I write. I wite to perfect my craft, whatever the outcome. I know I will be successful--my goal is to write.

The Crystal Faerie said...

Oh most definitely, I would continue writing.I don't write because I want money. I write because I need to write. Just as much as other people need to eat or to sleep or to breathe, I MUST write. It's part of my blood, part of who I am.
I do hope to be published and I would love to be on the shelves at Borders, but if I don't, I'll just copy my stuff into leather-bound journals and pass it to my kids...and keep on writing.
It's not about the money. It's about the intense need to write.

Anonymous said...

This question comes up a lot in writing groups. Usually the overwhelming majority admit writing for the sake of getting out all the niggly, irritating, "got to be written" ideas that float around creative minds.

Would I still write? I've been writing since I was a child -- a time when the idea of earning money for penning ideas wasn't even something to be considered. I write what I want to and don't stress about the market until the product is finished. While the challenge of writing specifically for an eye to publication is fun, it never calms the inner voice that nags about ideas that need to be delivered.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I would write if I never made any money. To be honest, my only fear is that my work would be discovered in a box and the next generation would make money.

Kimber An said...

Absolutely!

Money would be nice, but I'm used to not getting paid money for doing what I love. I'm a mommy.

Sempiternal said...

Right now I mostly write just for the fun of it. Most of my stories, which will probably never be finished, I wrote as a stress reliever of sorts. There is only one story that I am working on that I actually want to eventually try to get it published (key word is eventually).
No I wouldn't change how or what I write. As it is, even with the story I want to get published, I write because that is what I like to write about. Yeah, I'm stubborn.
As far as how much time I spend on my writing...well that would depend on my school and work schedule (as it does now) since that is a little more important at the moment ($40,000 a year...makes me not want to slack off).

Lauren said...

Yeah, well so far, it's all volunteer work. Not a penny in it yet. But I can't stop - so, yeah - I'd definitely still write even if I knew I'd never make a cent. I write for my friends, I write for myself... I write to learn what I think and feel about things... I write. Regardless.

oscar bermeo said...

I'm a poet and that means I know that poetry, even when put out by the big publishing houses, doesn't sell. I still write it, read it with gusto, and try to get it in as many hands as I can.

Violet said...

I am sure anyone interested enough in the creative process will answer yes to the question. However,there is a sense of needing to be heard, to have your work read and in earning we are validated ie. we know someone is curious, interetsed enough to cough up some money to see what we have produced.

Anonymous said...

Big yawn on this topic, man.

Mark J Daniels said...

I write every day and never make a penny. So I guess the answer is yes. I would love to make a living out of writing but either don't have the tenacity to get my work published in a paid-for way or am clearly not good enough at it; still, some editors allow me to have a blog-style column on their websites, which does allow me to get my writing in view of a larger audience.

And, at the end of the day, I enjoy it. If it ever turns in to a way of making a living, however, I shall be ecstatic!

Jane Turley said...

Hmm...on consideration money is pretty useful stuff but to be a true thespian one must do it for "The Art"! Oh.. "To be or not to be"....

Lauri Shaw said...

Of course!

I'm doing it right now at www.laurishaw.com with my novel, Servicing the Pole.

I'm actually getting a lot more hits than I expected. :-)

Keith Sheppard said...

In most cases, hitherto unpublished writers who write believing they are going to make a cent are sadly deluded.

If you do succeed in getting published and achieve modest sales then I doubt that your hourly rate will come to much when you divide the money received by the time you devoted to the project. It probably wouldn't even clear the (UK) national minimum wage.

I wrote my first book because I wanted to write it. Only when it was finished did I think "hey, maybe I could get this published".

Even then, the purpose of publishing for writers like me (and I'm guessing there are thousands of us) is not to make money but pure egotism. You want your work to be read. You want to say to friends and acquaintances "look, here's the book I wrote". Perhaps most importantly you want to see your name on the spine in your local book store.

Money doesn't come into the equation.

Maris Bosquet said...

I think Margaret Yang called this one! :)

Sometimes I wonder if writing for the sake of writing is not unlike singing or playing an instrument, though you know you'll never have an audience and never make a cent doing that, either.

Is it egotism, as Keith Sheppard says? I'm not sure. But there's certainly an odd joy about it.

Joseph said...

Yes, I would definitely continue to write, just as much as I do now (daily). To entertain myself, and to challenge my myself, and to avoid hobbies that require money.

Ulysses said...

Heck, I'm not making a cent now and it hasn't stopped me.

Heidi the Hick said...

Yeah, I'd still write. It's the only way to quiet the storm in the head.

However if I knew I'd never ever make any money off of it, I'd lay off the whole query craziness. I'd just write for fun and then pass the pile of paper to my friends, who would then fawn and gasp and gush about what a greeeaaaaaaat writer I aaaaaam.

In any case, I've been writing since I learned how to hold a pencil, so there'll be no stopping any time soon.

juvuly said...

Oh my gosh, have you never been to Fanfiction.net to see the billions of reams of stories that will never ever make a cent EVER? Of course people would still write!

Teri said...

Of course we would. The sheer pleasure of creating something, of putting thoughts down on paper in a semi-coherent form is worth it, even if it never makes a penny.

Victoria said...

I might actually write more if I weren't always thinking about readership and marketing and plotting to make agents and editors drool over my query. But I certainly wouldn't stop writing. And I have to agree: writing isn't a source of income a the moment. After all, blogging and grad school aren't exactly great ways to get paid =)

Caitlin said...

Always. It's the freedom and escape which come with words that keep me writing.
That and the hope that someone, somewhere is reading it.

Victoria: I'm on your alley. Blogging and school definitely keep the words going but not the income.

Anonymous said...

"You Tell Me",
Yes, I would continue to write as I have for years without receiving a cent. Why? I love to write.
I am currently writing short stories for the amazon short program and receiving a huge 25 cents per sale, not the greatest golden parachute, but that does not matter to me.
Give me a topic and I will run with it.
Robert Meacham

Deborah K. White said...

Yes, I'd still write. I love writing and telling stories.

It wouldn't change what I write because I only write stories that I think are worth telling. I don't think it'd change how I write. I'd still want to write the best story I could and, once I get started writing a story, it's often hard for me to stop to do things like, you know, eat.

Abi said...

Absolutely without question or hesitation, I would write even if I never made a cent!!!

Abi

http://bloggingexperiments.wordpress.com

gabriel simple said...

I´m writing you from spain, following your blog since september, and the question you made is relevant. I think -as a great writer said - that if you have got something to say, you must say it.It´s indiferent the way you write, or your audience, sometimes the audiences lost the writer. The writer must write for him, not for his audience.

Katie Killary said...

I would absolutely still write! money needs to compete with importance for writing, not the other way around :o)

Anonymous said...

Right now, I really don't give much thought to "earning" anything. I write for the sheer pleasure of it.

Anonymous said...

Abso-freakin-lutely!

Kristan said...

I think that yes, I would still write, and I know that no, I wouldn't change anything about how I wrote.

Honestly, it may be even more frustrating to write and NOT know whether or not you'll ever make a cent. At least if you knew you wouldn't, you could arrange other means of survival and just enjoy writing as your hobby. Right now I'm barely subsisting on a part-time job so I can focus on writing. The fear and stress of poverty? Yeah, that's snapping at my ankles. But I have faith in myself -- both in my innate talent and in my ability to improve -- so I have to do this.

Whether or not I'll "make it"... well, I suppose we'll see.

Leis said...

Poetry and short stories, definitely. But novels? No.

I don't know if others feel this way, but writing a proper novel is one of the most difficult, challenging, maddening projects I've ever gotten myself into. Ever.

If NOBODY but me would ever read it, I'd prefer to save my sanity and do a little gardening instead.

The Writers' Group said...

Yes, I would still write. I have always written, for free and for pay. Thank goodness growing as a writer makes it all the more interesting and enjoyable. That said, however, I cannot wait to read the words, "Well, everyone, the query moratorium is no longer in effect!"

Hannah Roveto

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

I am "making a cent" already from my writing! It's not much, but hey, if it puts gas in the tank, who's to complain!

Yes, it's poetry, but also little snippets of my novel sold in the context of crafts. Text + crafts = gas in the tank. Also it's market research to see how my target audience reacts to certain (I like to think) witty sayings, as well as made-up objects, from my novel.

It's amazing how a little cash crossing your palm can ease the pain of query rejection! I guess I get my inspiration from, gulp, Project Runway - concepts like "the designer's vision," "overall statement," whether something feels "cohesive" - I mean, you can think of a piece of writing like that - a whole novel - as just one part of an overall "design challenge" or "collection." So it's the biggest piece in that particular creative collection - but if you can make $10 selling an "accessory" to it - why not?

Lovely words when selling an item, and they ask where you got the idea for it: "It's from my novel..."

(Quotation mark overload, I know)

spinregina said...

Do I breathe?

Brian said...

Nathan

You have a great blog. To answer your question, yes I would cause i don't get paid now to write.

On a different note. I was wondering if you would agree to an interview with me for my blog? It's for new writers and I think they would enjoy information from an agent. My blog is http://www.the-new-author.blogspot.com/

Thanks.

S. Boyd Taylor said...

I'm writing now and I'm not making a cent. Making the jump to a paid short story market would be a nice milestone. So would selling a novel. If I can ever finish a decent one.

Anonymous said...

Yes! I love writing and would do it for free, but it sure would be nice to sell a book, as well.

K said...

Nathan, I'm glad you asked. I've been writing without making a cent years. For me this is a calling and a calling is something you do that is simply a part of your person, like walking, and talking.

Once you embrace your calling,you can't control the journey it's beginning , middle or end. Or, how much money you will make. The jouney is part of the joy and the things experienced feed the writing.

Kay Hall

Miriam S.Forster said...

Pah. I've had moments and days and seasons when I've tried not to write, tried to do something else. (I haven't made any money yet.) I probably could resist the urge to put pen to paper and record my stories, but the constant flow of dream and imagination and what if? in my head will never stop.

Would I write differently? Well I primarily write for children and YA, and again the answer is nah. I write how I think and try to capture the stories that present themselves as fully as possible.

Besides, it's a lot of fun.

Oddly enough, I was planning a "why I write" blog on Saturday. Stop by and check it out, if you want.

Perry said...

Yeah. I'd still write, because I don't write for money. I write because it's f%$#ing cool.

Anonymous said...

Well most of us aren't going to make a dime so we are already doing it. I guess what you are really doing is nudging everyone (a little nudging is good) to do a reality check and remind themselves that while this is a business it is one of the toughest and the chances of anyone of us ever making a living at it were never very good -- even before the present financial crisis.

Jeanne said...

I believe that if you are meant to do something you will do it no matter what the cost or lack of reward. Think of Van Gogh and other artists who were never appreciated or rewarded in their lifetime but became greatly influential after death. They created and wrote because they had to- because it was their vision, passion, etc...

If you love to write, then you can't stop. That's how I have been all my life. I have to write to think well. Writing is the only way I have to properly express my thoughts, feelings, emotions, experiences, and ideas.

Even if someone has chosen a different career path than professional writing, if they love to write, they will do it privately for their own personal pleasure and sanity. They will blog, journal, write poetry - whatever satisfies the writer inside. And if such a person is also able to earn a living from writing, then they are really blessed.

Anonymous said...

I AM still writing and I know that I will never make a cent! I sit at my computer as the thoughts fly from my mind to the screen. I get so intense that I laugh or cry out loud with the characters I am writing about. I can't abandon them. I will write to give them a chance at life and not to put a cent in my pocket.

ManiacScribbler said...

It would depend if I was still published or not. I would still write, but I would write differently depending on if I was published or not.
ManiacScribbler =^..^=

ac said...

No. No I wouldn't.

Deboe said...

I'm pretty sure that I am not going to make a cent and I still do it, more for the release of things in my head. So I suppose that's a yes.

GutsyWriter said...

I came back from the SCWC in Irvine, California and listened to agents and editors as well as authors. I learned we should not expect to get paid until our 4th book, at least.
I no longer expect to get paid, in fact, I'm the one who has to pay to get my book promoted. I have to hire a freelance editor, a publicist, do my own marketing, and pay for hotels and travel expenses to promote my book. Sounds like I have to be rich to make it as a newbie author. At least I know what to expect.

Lisa said...

I pretty much assume I'm not going to make a cent anyway, it's not exactly a booming business. My big goal is not to have to pay to have it published!

Anonymous said...

Forbes has updated their annual guesses on the earnings of the most successful authors. This year's list, covering June 1, 2007 to June 1, 2008, estimates the top 10 authors "pulled in a combined $563 million."
1. J.K. Rowling, $300 million
2. James Patterson, $50 million
3. Stephen King, $45 million
4. Tom Clancy, $35 million
5. Danielle Steel, $30 million
6. John Grisham, $25 million
6. Dean Koontz, $25 million
8. Ken Follett, $20 million
9. Janet Evanovich, $17 million
10. Nicholas Sparks, $16 million

Anonymous said...

I'm at a "Me First" place in my writing. For nearly two decades my life has been about taking care of others. I need something that nourishes and replenishes me. Writing seems to do that in a way nothing else does.

For me, like sex after your child-bearing years have passed, writing is purely and deliciously about pleasure.

I write what I want to write. I couldn't care less what someone else wants to read.

Selfish? Absolutely. But at this point in my life, writing is a place I feel entitled to be selfish.

If someone wants to pay to read my stories, that's terrific. If not, that's fine too.

Regina Richards

Anonymous said...

I don't consider myself a "Writer" as much as a "Storyteller" so I would continue telling stories whether or not I ever earned a dime.
Of course, I'd love to make money from my storytelling and do my best to make it professional and well-presented so people want to read them and would be willing to pay to do so.
The problem, of course, is finding a way to get them out to the public in the first place.
A retired Army Master Sergeant

Steve Olenski said...

I would write if I were naked in a forest with nothing but York Peppermint Patties to sustain me. Does that answer your query?

Deirdre Mundy said...

I'd still write, but I probably wouldn't put as much work into revising, especially when "pure joy" turns to "backbreaking labor".

The possibility of publication and royalties makes me work harder and gives me a concrete goal. (Currently, a manuscript ready to sub to agents by January!)

Michelle L. Devon said...

I cannot NOT write. I've written all my life, and it's a passion, an obsession, if you will. Yes, I'd write. No, it wouldn't change what I write too much as far as fiction goes. I probably wouldn't 'freelance' anymore though. Articles aren't my passion; they just pay the bills.

Love and stuff,
Michy

Eiko said...

I can't imagine not writing, so yes, I would write just as often and I wouldn't change my work. What matters most to me is how many people I can inspire/piss off/make cry/make laugh. As long as I could be published, I'd do it for free.

The Dan Ward said...

I can't believe I'm adding to the 167 previous comments (but apparently I can't help myself).

I just wanted to say that this is kind of a dumb question with an obvious answer. Did someone point that out already? There were too many comments for me to read them all.

Of course we'll all write even if we weren't paid. I think that's basically what the first 167 comments said (aren't writers supposed to be more creative than that?).

What I want to know is: How many of us would stop writing if someone paid us. How many of us would even be able to stop writing, if we were offered money to stop?

Now THAT would be an interesting question...

Jeanne said...

I'm glad I came back and read all 168 of these comments.

I can't help thinking how things never change. That millions of years ago when there were cave people- some were hunters - some were gatherers- some were inventors (fire/the wheel) and some were using sticks and blood to etch/scrape/paint on cave walls because they felt compelled to write. I wonder if they got paid?

OpaqueSkies said...

I am coming to the point of venturing into writing for profit, but have not taken that step yet. It is easier for me to write for the love of the topics. Out of reverence for the potential influences of compromise/conflict of interest that writing for profit might bring to my writing and how sad that would be, my husband and I are reducing our expenses, widening our margin, in order for me to write, but not need to write.

I am sure it is something to constantly be aware of and monitor. Just like all motives in all areas of our lives.

JaxPop said...

I'll join with the minority - No I wouldn't & don't write for free. I like getting checks in the mail.

Court said...

I would still write for free. I do write for free. I've been writing for free since I was ten.

However, I will admit that I would rather not have to *continue* writing for free!

As for how I write and what I write....if I knew it would never see print, I might write a bit raunchier than I do. ;o)

Court said...

P.S. To "the dan ward":

I wouldn't stop writing if someone paid me. I enjoy it too much, and money just isn't worth that much. :o)

Anonymous said...

Let me put it this way...

I know how hard it is to find an agent and publisher. I know that publication isn't synonymous with wealth- or even making enough to pay the bills in many instances. I also know that I have over a dozen writing projects going on at once... and that at the rate I'm going, I might not live long enough to finish a darn thing. And yet I keep going. I write because it makes me happy, it challenges me, and it keeps me off the streets.

It's not much of a leap between "might never make a cent" and "will never" for me. So, yes. I'd keep going. What would I do differently? I'd take more risks. Maybe write some of those stories I tell myself: "Oh, no one would ever read that."

Katiek patrianoceu said...

As everyone has already said in one way or another, yes, I would definitely write if I knew I'd never make a cent. If I ever do make a cent, that will be a fabulous bonus, but it's not my goal.

That being said, I must admit that, even though I love writing and it's a part of who I am, I might stop if I knew no one would ever read anything I ever wrote. I'd get lazy.

sylvia said...

I'd write less. A lot less, probably. But yes, I would still write.

Lucy Jones said...

Yes, I would continue to write. I do write a blog, but it's not for money. Other things I write are for my own pleasure, and if they ever get published it will be a miracle. I find that I can't NOT write when something is gnawing at me.

Bella said...

Of course! And since I value myself as a writer, I'm always open to suggestion... in all fairness would probably be set to negotiate the swinging door of broad-mindedness.

AnarchyJack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AnarchyJack said...

I used to know these guys in a death metal band who took pride in the fact that the most money they'd ever made on a gig was seven bucks. Not seven bucks apiece, but seven bucks total, split four ways. To them, it was proof of their dedication--proof that they'd never prostituted their craft.

Between Camus and Hemmingway, most writers these days would rather be Hemmingway, even though Hemmingway never seized on an idea that outlived him quite the way Camus' ideas did (e.g. The Myth of Sisyphus, The Rebel). Poe, who was quite prolific, made little from his writing; Melville had to support himself as a customs officer. The number of people who made their living exclusively from writing, prior to the Great War are relatively few in number: Fyodor Dostoyevsky, was one of the few 19th century writers who earned his sole income this way.


To answer the question, I've NEVER made a cent, and I still write. I've been published in professional journals, one of which never even paid me in copies. My best writing doesn't depend on the paycheck, but on the fear that someone might read something I've written and feel that it was sub-standard. The point of getting published--for many of us--wasn't to gain wealth or even fame, but to get our ideas out there.

Getting paid a lot isn't a metric for skill in a given profession. If you need proof, you need look than those Wall Street CEOs who were drawing 9-figure salaries while their companies were going under. If you think they were worth what they were being paid, I've got a bridge in Alaska I want to sell you.

sylvia said...

The point of getting published--for many of us--wasn't to gain wealth or even fame, but to get our ideas out there.

Now that's a good point. Would you still write if no one else was going to read it? I suspect that will give a myriad of answers.

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