Sunday, 16 November 2014
A few thoughts about making a living as a writer
Here's a particularly good article on the issue in the Toronto Star by Deborah Dundas, Can you afford to be a writer?, posted on FB this week by John Degen, Executive Director of the Writer's Union of Canada. And a good roundup of the discussion by Access Copyright here, "Education Fair Dealing"
Sean Michaels' debut novel won the Giller Prize last week, which was newly bumped up to $100,000 from $50,000 in previous years. Rick Mercer, the host of the evening, asked Mr. Michaels beforehand what he'd do with the money if he won. Mr. Michaels thought for a moment then answered, "Probably live off of it for 10 years." There you have it: writers living off $10,000 a year. Mr. Michaels says that his preferred writing venue is a coffee shop near his home, very low overhead there and he likes the distraction! (It's a lonely job to be a writer, for sure!)
$10,000 a year. It doesn't sound like much, and yes, it's always great when we earn more, but as author Evan Munday (who also works in a bookstore part-time) says in the Toronto Star article above, writing is something that we expect to do for as long as we can, because we have to tell stories. I have musician friends who say pretty much the same thing, they aren't in music for the money, but their creative drive insists on it. I have artist friends who say the same thing, too. We have to feed our families, of course, we have to be paid, but with or without big paycheques involved, we'd be doing this work of writing down stories either full-time, part-time, or in stolen quiet moments on Saturday afternoons while the kids are visiting with friends. In other words, we'd be writing, with or without the funding. Art will out, and for all of the dedicated writers I know, we find a way.
Here's an earlier blog post about my circuitous journey to becoming an author of children's books:
Becoming a children's author, part one