I've been doing a lot of thinking this past week about money. It started when I read John Scalzi's post where he states that he became a writer to get rich. Yeah, okay, I expect we all have that "get rich writing" thought somewhere in the back of our heads as we pound away at the keyboard. And truth be told, Mr. Scalzi makes some very good points in his essay. The thing is most writers don't get rich. If they're very lucky, they can make a decent living that keeps a roof over their head and food on table.
And there's the rub to getting rich. That damn luck. Not everyone gets that four leaf clover tossed their way no matter how talented or persistent they are. I think that successful writers do beginning writers a disservice when they talk about getting rich without explaining the luck that goes along with all the work. Now, Mr. Scalzi did mention luck twice in his essay, but it was nearly buried in all the money talk. An even bigger disservice is done by writing publications like Writer's Digest and others who stress how much money a writer is given for their first novel. Don't believe me, how much money did Stephen King get for "Carrie"? Yeah, there's not a writer out there who doesn't know the answer to that question.
When I was growing up we were taught that there were three things we should work hard for. Food. Shelter. Clothing. And in that order. Everything else was gravy so long as the basic needs of the human body were met. Sure we dreamed of being rich, of living in a big house and wearing shoes that were pretty instead of sturdy. But in real life we don't always get what we want or deserve, no matter how hard we work. Telling everyone who puts their fingers to a keyboard that they can achieve fame and fortune is folly. Life's a crap shoot and not everyone gets to hit the jackpot, but that doesn't keep us from dreaming and working hard to at least make a living with the work we love.
ADDED ON: Brian Lindenmuth pointed me in the direction of an excellent post by Brian Keene that sets down the truth and all its dirty of what it's like to be a full time writer. You can read it here