WRITING UPDATE: I have a strategy. That's the same as doing work, right? ;)
Natalie Whipple is doing a Q&A on her blog at the moment that's worth reading. One poster asked her about the financial side of writing - specifically, when a writer can reasonably expect to make money from writing, insofar as a writer can expect anything beyond repetitive strain injury and bitten fingernails.
Her response is sobering and probably accurate (not that I would know). It takes a long time. You can't bank on it. You can't keep your minimum-wage low-stress job and tell yourself the advance on your first novel will buy your first house.
I live in one of the best countries in the world for creative artists as we have massive tax exemptions, so an Irish-resident writer sees more of their pitiful windfalls than most. We're a lucky bunch, even if our former Taoiseach is exploiting this rather a lot.
Once someone's name is in the public arena, there is a perception that they're wealthy. The reality TV generation are changing that somewhat, but my old creative writing teacher Claire Hennessy joked once that the first question everyone asks a writer is 'Are you rich?', and it's fairly widely known among aspiring writers that this isn't a shortcut to easy street. Even so, I think we would all secretly like to believe it will happen for us.
But that isn't why we're here, and every blog post I read about the financial realities of a writing career (and there are lots out there) reminds me of that. I do occasionally fantasise that I'll be one of the few who can write full-time someday. I'm only human :)
It all comes back to one thing, though - we do this because we want to. We're not here for the money, the glory, the fact it's easy. We're here because we want to be. It's not always fun, and sometimes we do have to switch off the instant messaging software, the mobile phone and the TV, turn down invitations from people we love and resign ourselves to an evening shuttling between the couch and kettle. Some of us aren't lucky enough to have evenings to set aside (I have no kids and work regular hours in one job), but we dig notebooks out of our bags in the doctor's surgery, or on our lunch breaks, or on the train. And yes, I am deliberately saying 'we' even for the statements that don't apply to me, because we're all in this together. We're all on the same path.
And we'd do well to remember this when we can't make ourselves write, when we wonder why we're adding an extra ball to the things we're juggling, and when we work out what a six figure advance is when you deduct everything that needs deducting.
No one made us do this. We're here because we want to be. And not everyone gets lucky enough to say that about something in their lives.