Earning a Living as a Writer

A couple weeks ago I read this article on Salon. In this article the writer talks the need for writers to be honest about what is actually supporting their writing careers. Whether is is being heir to a family fortune or having a spouse whose career supports your writing.

I come from the other side of this equation. I am not an heiress to any family fortune. Alas and alack my mom’s calling isn’t finance and business like the rest of her family. Her calling is nursing and while she’s done well and has been a responsible investor she certainly isn’t at the same financial level as her brothers. She married for love but it didn’t work out. My dad has gone through a series of career choices- computer programer, day trader, poker player- but he’s not exactly saving money for his elder years or to leave his children. His philosophy on money seems to be “You can’t take it with you.”

I have been writing for over 10 years. After several classes, conferences, and writing classes I started really pursuing the whole writing for publication thing in 2008.

I have to confess that as a single person working in the arts my biggest obstacle in writing is often money. I work in theater. Sometimes there is plenty of work, so much work that I feel like I need to take on as much work as I can, because other times there is less work. In addition to my full time job I regularly take on freelance wardrobe gigs doing laundry for other theaters. Or I babysit. Lately I’ve been lifeguarding and teaching swimming lessons. I’m trying to build a copywriting/editing business in hopes of earning some of my income by putting words on paper.

While I think the article makes some good points about money I also think that sometimes when you are writing it is one of those situations where the grass looks greener in someone else’s yard. I used to envy my friends who were able to be stay at home parents. I dreamed of meeting someone who had the kind of career and benefits that could sustain me and my writing dreams. But I realized in some ways maybe they also envied me. My fun job, the copious amounts of free time I must have since I don’t have kids.

Sometimes concerns over money cause me to waste perfectly good writing time. I enjoy the structure of going to work. Even though I dream of being independently wealthy I’m certain that if I were to win the Powerball tomorrow and be able to sit and write without needing to worry about paying the bills I would probably not get any more writing done than I do trying to fit writing into my life with two jobs.

What do you think? Is money a huge factor in your writing life? Do you wish it was a more talked about thing? Have you found creative ways to support your writing career?

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