My older son, who is about to start medschool, supposing he ever has time to get an apartment and stuff, in between helping me scrape and wax floors, and clean tile, was talking to me in the car on the way to the other house about some creative project of his, and said “It’s another strand in my grand weave of ‘get rich slowly.'”
Years ago when talking to a colleague who is a friend (okay, somewhere between friend and mentor and squee, but never mind) he told me of one of the biggest writers in the field, now deceased that “he always ran scared” monetarily.
It might astonish the people outside this field because that author at one time got the biggest till then advance ever for a book and it was in the tens of millions, but those advances are tricksy. Some of my friends have got “millions of dollar” advices that in the end translate to a median salary a year (broken up into tiny pieces) and then get cut off when the book fails to sell better than the bible, or whatever.
For many years that was the way writers lived. And even those of us who were doing well — turning in stuff, getting advances — could be brought low by an illness or a long silence. Particularly int he nineties and the oughts, backlist was often ignored, while being jealously held onto by the publisher.
When we embarked on this and Dan gave up his music so one of us — me — could pursue her artistic thing while the other one — him — had the steady income and the 9 to 5 job (and I’ll confess to you it probably never would have happened if we hadn’t had the kids. I couldn’t justify staying home to write and sacrificing him, knowing my chances of success were zilch. But, working a little harder and building a career while the kids were napping and then at school? That I could do.) we agreed the odds of ever succeeding at any level were very low. Realistically, I’m an ESL speaker, with iconoclastic reading (and viewing) tastes, an unsociable disposition and ABSOLUTELY no contacts in the field before I broke in. Oh, yeah, then there was the political thing.
Well, it did take me 16 years, but I broke in, and when I’m working steadily I make about as much as I would make if I got a job as a secretary (even an international secretary. Doesn’t pay very well in CO) or an assistant lecturer. (Okay, that might make just a little — a very little, depending on the college — more money, but I also would be billiard ball bald by now from filling all the forms.)
The problem is that working steadily part. It’s not just the health issues that swallowed the last two years. This isn’t even a #waronwomen thing, because I hear the same from writing friends who are male. It’s a #workingfromhome thing. When you work from home, by default, you end up getting all the debris of family life tossed at you. Cleaning and cooking (which are much easier in a suburban house than in a big, ramshackle Victorian) but also stuff like “We need to get the house ready for sale” which has eaten the last two and a half months. It’s probably worsened in my case because I know some carpentry and am a jack-leg almost everything.
Between one thing and the other every writer I know has interruptions in their output and we have no pensions, nothing that pays when we’re not giving 100% to the job. So it seemed to be every writer’s destiny to “run scared” until one day suddenly they had enough property accumulated that, when they died, it was just enough to cause a big fight amid their kids for the additional income.
This has changed with Amazon and publishing indie. I can see a path to having enough to actually retire on eventually and the creek don’t rise. (Not that I intend to retire, but you know what I mean. Enough to look after me when I’m older and even more sickly.)
Of course, the problem now is getting done with the house and all the other stuff, and being able to write. Yes, it’s happening, slowly. Hopefully, please G-d, these are the last two days.
But it’s not just writing. My sons have dipped toes in art and gaming, and some of their friends are making money from podcasts and indie music. The point is that if you are a creative, this is a great time to be alive. You can reach the public directly and because “the public” is so large, even a small success is enough to live on, more or less.
Hence the older son’s “get rich slowly” streams which include starting work in many small fields and running it over many decades, so eventually it amounts to something.
Not to say everyone will succeed. It still requires concentration and effort. But it is, at least a possibility.
And eventually I’ll get done with this, and I’m starting to think “A novel a week. Has to be easier than waxing floors.” (yeah, yeah, I know, but maybe finishing one a month? I mean a lot of them are started.)
I got back the rights to Sword and Blood last week, and the next book is a couple of days from being done. I don’t know when I’ll have time to do the third, and since the three are an integral whole, I wouldn’t expect them before next year. I’m also still editing the Heart and Soul books.
I must get done with the house, so I can write. We are also now at the tipping point when getting someone to do things while I write to pay for it MIGHT work, since they’re things I don’t know how to do, like tiling. I could figure it out, but it’s probably CHEAPER to pay someone to do it and write to pay for it. So, two days.
Part of the problem with two days is that I set Dan’s first book on pre-order for the 19th and I intended to do a full-court press for it leading up to release, as well as typeset it, and of course none of it has happened.
And I need his book to do well, or he won’t write anymore, and I’ll be left alone to manage the “get rich slowly” stuff.
Really, it would be much easier if there are two of us rowing this galley.
So anyway, his book is not political at all, and it’s just fun, if any of you are interested. (I am trying to forestall here the “Husband of libertarian writer hankers for the return of Rome.” Mostly he wanted to create a messy intriguy — totally a word — environment that could get his characters in a heap of trouble. It’s not even very Rome accurate. It’s “idiots try to recreate Rome in the future, but only get the strange parts.”)
And no that’s not — precisely — a copyrighted ship. I modeled it. And I made the cover, so deal with that too.
Anyway, if you are so inclined, order or promote, I’d like to push up its rank before official release.
As I said, I want it to do well, so he’ll write more weekends and evenings (and btw, considering this is his first novel, he’s way better than I. My first written novel, I’ve just destroyed every copy of that I could find. Think For Us The Living. No, seriously. Only worse.) Because with both of us on getting rich slowly, we might get to the point I never have to paint a wall again. (If I want to it’s different but I don’t want to HAVE to do this again.)
And now — hey, do you hear a drummer keeping time? — I’m going to go clean/wax so I can return to rowing this unwieldy boat this weekend.