Writing to get RICH

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Well, that was a bait and switch, sort of. It all depends on how one defines rich.

I wonder how many of us start this writing journey with secret dreams of bestsellers, movie deals, roly-poly royalty checks, and hiring efficient staff with clipboards to manage our fan mail.

I write fantasy after all. A little dreaming is in order. Yet, I always knew that dream was a stretch (a gigantic one).

My husband, on the other hand, had high hopes that he’d married Ms. Moneybags who’d drag her sacks of gold from her thousands of books sales down the red carpet to the bank.

Ha ha ha. That would be nice! It didn’t take long for him to become disillusioned, the poor man.

Because that’s not how this author thing works (just in case you’re a dreamer and think it is). Oh yes, some few among us have outstanding good luck and write a book that rocks the charts, but for most of us, that trip to glittering literary super stardom is and will always be a literal dream.

So here’s the truth (from my perspective, anyway)…

Writing is hard, hard, hard work. It’s also one of the top fun things I’ve ever done in my life. What a luxury to spend hours with one’s imagination, to create whole new stories from ink and air. Writers live multiple lives and get to share those worlds of adventure, romance, mystery, history, truth and fiction. We move people, change them, distract, heal, excite, ease, and educate.

And our gifts cross continents, forging connections. Our stories cost almost nothing for hours of enjoyment, and if we’re lucky, our pages land in libraries where they’re free to the curious borrower. If we blog, we do this within a community of writers and readers who are generous with their time and talent, and we cheer each other on.

Even now, once I invest – or to be honest, once my husband invests because I’m broke and super nice to him – in all the stuff that supports my writing addiction like covers and ink and paper and software and giveaways and festival fees, etc, etc, there isn’t much left. Does it matter?

The answer is no. I’d write anyway. To those of you with this addiction, do it because you love it and it makes you happy, because that, my dear writers, is what makes us rich.

 

Sometimes the Good Guys Win

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I have high expectations for my fantasy characters. They’re supposed to do the right thing, make sacrifices, stand up to evil against all odds. My plots throw them into situations requiring them to make tough choices when it would be so much easier to look the other way or let someone else bear the burden. Some of my protagonists are reluctant, but they almost always make the right choices.

I posted last summer about Big Energy wanting to run a massive natural gas pipeline through my little town in the middle of nowhere. Why here? Because we are inconsequential peasants, our lives an insignificant sacrifice should something go terribly wrong in the pursuit of billions in profit. About two years ago, I became an activist. I felt an obligation to live up to my characters’ expectations.

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I protested, but my weapons of choice were words. I wrote and wrote and wrote to anyone who would listen and many who wouldn’t. What we do has the power to persuade, to stir emotions, to record the truth in black and white, indelible, transmittable, and harder to ignore.

We weren’t the only community affected, of course, and I was only one of several thousand voices including environmentalists, recreational and commercial fishermen, Native Americans, farmers, land owners, Earth-lovers, and old hippies (myself included).

We were only one village on the snaking pipeline that would cut through hundreds of waterways and end at two massive export terminals on our Pacific shores. Some of those fighting this war had been battling for over ten years. Talk about resolve.

Well, last week we actually WON.

We won for our neighbors and our forests, wildlife, and waterways. Ordinary citizens raised our voices together and we prevailed over the power of money.

It still feels like a fantasy, one where the good guys win.