Saturday, August 12, 2006

For Love, Or Money

Thanks to a hum-dinger of a one-liner I read this morning, I have that phrase (or its zinging derivative) stuck in my head ... thanks a lot Bernita! Still, it started up a little thought pattern all its own.

Why do we write?

Is it for love, or money?

Of course it can be for both, but usually there's a driving force behind each individual.

The easy answer is 'I write because I can't not write'. I think it is pretty safe to say that for most of us, that's true. After all, why put ourselves through such torture if it weren't a life's necessity. But ... but ... but ... what drives us to attempt gaining publication: surely a task much more arduous than mere writing. Heck, for the most part, it's a task that begets the mother of all headaches on a daily basis.

There must be a reason we put ourselves through such torture. It can't simply be for the audience. Can it? I mean, if audience is all we truly desire, then hey, the world's our stage--or at least in the ethereal sense of the word. Thanks to the vast reaches of the world wide web, we can reach out and touch just about anyone we want to. (Hum, icky connotation alert there.)

Why is it, that it seems most artists of any type, are afraid ... even ashamed to admit that money would be nice.

We have to eat. We have to pay the same bills as the teacher, lawyer, gardener, and pastry chef has to. We have to survive in a world based on currency. So, hey, money would be nice.

What would be your honest answer to the question: Why do you write?

For me, if you stretch beyond the 'because I have to' idiom, which is true, but I can do that on a piece of scrap paper that I shove in my drawer at night if that's all it was... I'd have to say that it's for the recognition, and fame that might accompany a popular hit ... and in the end, money would be nice.


Anonymous said...

I think you're right that is not bad to have money. Every new actor going to Hollywood wants to have a Harrison-Ford-like career. I mean, commanding 20 mil for flick gives a lot of status like nothing else does. (Okay, I admit old Ford might be on the way down nowadays).
So they cannot say is only for the acting. The same applies to us writers. I know we have certain ideas bursting to get out of our brains, demanding to be put on piece of paper (or Word doc for that matter). But who could deny we secretly hope to become the richer than the Queen of England. Or a Clive Cussler/Tom Clancy 20-year-long series of books. We all hope our stories capture the reader’s eye, a little help by the Catholic Church forbidding the book/movie also gives you a boost like nothing else, if you don’t think so ask Dan Brown or Mel Gibson.

Bernita said...

The artiste starving in his garret is, I believe, a cultural excuse foisted on us by 19th century romantics. The same is always positioned, suitably superior,in contrast to the crass commercialism of those writing for the market.
Thus to admit wanting money has become a curious and elistist taboo.
Mercantile aspirations are so bougeoise, you see.
We live in a market society. Money is a measure, a yardstick of success and value.
Though my basic impulse is to share, I have no problems admitting I seek publication in the hopes of money - not that I expect to see much of it.

ivan said...

I have found that when you write for money,you get no money.

But a lot of lucky things happen
on your way to obscurity. Put in the twenty years (sic) and all sorts of good things begin to happen. Like some film maker suddenly wants your novel.
Gotta believe. In yourself.

Too much like a self-help book?
But one day the sun does shine. You might even get money.

EA Monroe said...

Writing, humm. Seems the more one chases success and $$$, the further away it gets, except for the lucky few who either happen to know someone connected or happen to be in the right place at the right time. But we can dream! If I didn't write, I'd be cranky and depressed. Writing for me is a tool for self-discovery, probing the psyche, and developing the understanding it takes to be a tolerant human being! ;-) Mrs. Steel, my fifth grade teacher years and years ago, had the foresight to see writing as a constructive way to channel my penchant for daydreaming. Plus, I had to give up playing paperdolls after a certain age, but that didn't stop me from making up stories. Not to mention, I do not like a lot of the books that get published these days when we can all write one that's just as good, or better! Publication? I'm exploring that frightening option. I'm not sure I'm ready for the tough business side of art. Still, I would like to share, plant a seed of thought -- an idea.

And then there's retirement!

S. W. Vaughn said...

Money! Money, money, money, money...

I mean, love. Of course. Love is all there is to it. Besides money.

Okay -- I write because I HAVE to. And since I need money to pay rent and buy groceries and such, I gotta have money. I HAVE to write; ergo, I must write for money. :-)

To paraphrase Terry Pratchett:

Gold, gold, gold, gold
Gold, gold, gold...

(whoops, think I mucked up the chorus there)

ivan said...

Terry Pratchett is crazy as a bedbug and I'll bet he'll be glad to hear it.
Laughing all the way to the bank.

Anonymous said...

Hi! It's Cupnjava. I'm showing up on your blog now. Snicker.

I write because I have these stories inside me and they claw and gnaw at me until I clack out the words. Sometimes they take over my mind and I can't focus on anything until I write. I write linearly so if the really demanding scene is down a bit in the story, I have to type to it. I used to get so obsessed that my husband would have to put food in front of me to remind me to eat. I'd type for so long that my fingers would hum and ache. I keep silly putty beside my keyboard and knead it when I pause to think. That helps a lot.

When I had an office job I'd keep a notebook with me and scribble away during lunch or any other bit of downtime.

I figure if I'm going to devote this much of my life to something, I should try to get paid for it. That way I can pay for food that I'll forget to eat and a phone that I won't answer.