I was reading Jordan Summers's recent post at Romancing the Blog the other day on the subject of writing for money vs. writing to make ourselves happy.
It's the age old debate all writers face. Do we go where the money is, write what's selling at the moment in order to keep paying the bills, or write what we love because that ultimately gives us a better chance of wowing the pants off our readers [assuming someone buys our stuff] and it makes us happy and content?
The consensus of course is to write for happiness. It's like marrying for love. You shouldn't do it for any other reason. Nevertheless, despite the virtue of that addage, there's still that lurking need to earn a buck and that insidious envy of the authors who just happen to LOVE writing exactly what's hot at the moment.
Ms. Summers said she had an epiphany of sorts and decided to write only for herself regardless of the salability of those stories. She's happier for it, and I envy her that decision. I've never actually said to myself, or anyone else, I'm writing for the money. I'm not...really...but I am trying to make a living at writing. I've wanted writing to be my full time job my whole life. Not a hobby, not a side gig, but my one and only career and now that I'm smack dab in the middle of the growing pains of said career, I have to balance the need to earn [and hence justify doing ONLY this] and the need to write because I love it.
The whole point of always wanting to be a full time author was that I wanted to have a job that I loved. Not just something I could tolerate doing until retirement, not a job I hated that paid well and therefore would never be worth quitting, not a job that just filled the hours until I had enough money saved up to quit and play around all day. I wanted to LOVE going to work, to get up in the morning and look forward to my daily tasks.
I know that's a lot to ask of any career and/or job. Probably 98% of the people I know either actively despise or at the very best tolerate their jobs. The all play the lottery with the idea in mind that if they hit it big, they'd hire a limo to drive them to work one last time so they could Quit with a capital Q.
Not that I would look a lottery jackpot in the mouth, mind you, but I really never wanted that - essentially to spend all my time daydreaming of the moment I could quit my job. I wanted to do something that I would do even if I had all the money in the world, a career that would only become more enjoyable if I didn't have to worry about how the bills would get paid.
So what I need now is an epiphany. The ability to look at my work and say, I love this even if it doesn't earn me a lot of money and I love it enough to knock myself out working at it so that one day it will make me a lot of money, and I love it enough to write what I want to write and not worry about what's making money these days because I'll be happier in the long run.
If anyone can get me a price quote on that epiphany...