Wednesday, September 10, 2008

does it pay to write?

every so often, i get emails from aspiring writers asking for advice. this morning, i found this one from a kindred spirit:

Ms. Kelleher,

Seeing an AOL email account in these days of gmail and other free email account means you must be a kindred spirit and myself being from Jersey means you must also have a sense of humor...I am an aspiring fantasy writer and only wish to ask you, as I search for an agent, for your advice. If you could spare me a few minutes I would be grateful.

I have written about 6 chapters of a book over the last few years, tweaking, changing, adding, deleting until I had something I would want to read myself. It may sound strange but I'm very fussy.

I was interested in you mainly because you wrote fantasy/romance. Being a Computer geek for the last 27 years didn't allow me much time to read but I've read Andre Norton, Donaldson, Eddings, Williams, Modesitt and Goodkind so my base is well grounded

I'm new to this and ignorant. Ask me anything about computers and I could rattle off "tech talk" for hours. I've read all the " How to get publish" books and it looks to be a long road.

My question;

In this day and age, does it pay to even start? Seems like there are hundreds of book already out there.My wife and kids think I'm crazy to even try.

- Aspiring Writer

here is my response:

Dear Aspiring Writer:
when you ask me "does it pay?" - i'd have to ask you... what kind of "payment" do you have in mind? :)

writing fiction is not the road to riches. for some, yes, it can be... but the whims of the market and the words of the writer are frequently two entirely different things. if you envision doing this in order to get rich, believe me, there are easier, faster and far less painful methods.

but if you are writing out of a deep need to create, out of a longing to tell your stories in ways that no one else can, if you are writing stories that YOU enjoy reading, or to leave some integral part of yourself that will speak to your children and your grandchildren and your great grandchildren long after you are gone, then i would say it pays in spades.

fiction has not made me financially rich. it hasn't even made me financially secure. but when i see my row of books lined up on the mantel, in five different languages, and i know that a hundred years from now, my great-great grandchildren will be able to (well, hopefully be able to, but i'm an optimist) hear my voice as clearly as if i were in the next room, and i feel that there is some piece of me that (as the roman poet horace said,) shall not wholly die.... then, i feel very rich indeed.


Walk in the Woods said...

Ashe. Ashe. Ashe.

livewater said...

Do what you love, do what you are called to do out of the depths of your soul and payment will be far greater than money.

KittenGoddess said...

I'm interested in writing fantasy myself, but what has me freezing in my tracks is creating a world...a whole world...the Gods must have felt something like the panic I feel when I think of it. Okay so I don't need to create a whole world, just a country to begin with, but still its a scary thought and one that has me struggling to even begin.
So if I may ask a question, how did you go about creating a realistic world for your characters to live in?

P.A. GIbbons said...

beautifully written.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree!!!