Monday, July 6, 2009

Writing for Money

“Anyone who is writing to make money is deluding himself; he is writing for other, deeper reasons, reasons he cannot explain.” -- Joyce Carol Oates in “Connecting the unique & universal” [The Writer, August 2009]
I never sat at my computer and said, “I’m going to write a story today that will make me money.” I can’t remember planning to write a story in which money played a prominent role. I write fiction -- short stories, mostly. I have one work around 9600 words -- I’m not sure how to classify it -- and a novel tucked away in a drawer. I didn’t begin any of them with the idea I’d be able to sell them. I wrote them because I had something to say. Now that I've had some success, I think about whether a finished product is good enough to submit to a paying market. If I decide it is, I spend extra time making the story as perfect as I can. I had one story accepted by a paying market near the end of 2008, and I’ve subbed to more paying markets this year. I haven’t had any stories accepted, but I’m still hopeful.

Regardless, I don’t sit down and begin a story with the goal of writing a piece that will make money. That would place extra pressure on the process. Maybe if my goal was to write for a living my attitude would be different. Of course, given today’s market, I probably wouldn’t be writing fiction exclusively, either. There's no money in it unless I change my last name to King, or Rowling, or Roberts, or Patterson.

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