Thursday, March 15, 2012

If You Could Look Into A Crystal Ball

We made a trek to my in-laws yesterday and had a wonderful visit. Ava loves (as we all do) to visit Grandma and Grandpa, and I appreciate their quiet little haven in New York. Not only relaxing but the food is good, and a hack writer like me can get some work done. On the way, I brought the nearly-finished BEAT to a PULP: ROUND TWO to continue polishing it into a fine gem. We've probably worked harder on this project than any other, and while going through the manuscript during the drive, it brought me back to a question a grizzled writer once asked me in the south of France* ...

Sonny, if you could look into a crystal ball and see that you would never become a financial success as a writer, would you still do it?"

The young David muttered, "Yes," to which he quickly replied, "Then you're already a success, kid."
And over the past few months as I have juggled the day job, a mother with dementia, fatherhood, and a number of other responsibilities, I've still reached for the ROUND TWO manuscript, working hard toward that ultimate goal even if for only a few stolen moments after work or while on a trip to visit relatives. It would be nice if ROUND TWO becomes a runaway smash and the darling of the critics, but, honest to Betsy, it doesn't matter how much it sells because the honor of publishing the legends among its pages has already made me a wealthy man in a way that other idealists will surely understand.

So for the struggling writers out there: If you could look into a crystal ball and see that you would never become a financial success as a writer, would you still do it? Feel free to say no as many folks have when I've asked them this question.

*The French writer was created for dramatic purposes. The one and only time I was in France, I got into a fight with some Hungarian acrobats. But that's a story for another day.

25 comments:

Kent said...

I would.

But, to be fair, I write for kicks. I enjoy, it's entertaining.

Not that I would ever turn down a paying gig, I'm just not actively looking for my writing to fill that role.

Ben said...

Writing was always there and I suspect always will be. Over time, I just learned not to be destructive about it. I would, because I wouldn't know what else to do. To be quite frank, I already made peace with the idea that I will always have to have a day job.

Now I'll stop or I'll get mushy.

Jo Ann Hakola said...

It's like being a bookseller. You do it because you love it, not because you expect to make money. I'm following my dream, so I'm happy.

Jason W. Stuart said...

Do it for love. We'll try to make sure it gets you some money.

David Cranmer said...

Well said, Kent. And I suspect a lot of folks will have the same answer. I'll say after several years of writing daily, I still get a kick out of it.

I have a feeling I will have a day job for several years to come, Ben. Not complaining either. I'm damn happy to be employed these days.

Nicely put, Jo Ann. I appreciate you stopping by.

Amen, Jason. And thanks for the book. I'm looking forward to the read and will get back to you with an e-mail.

Keith Rawson said...

I'm in the same boat as you in too many ways, David. As of late all of my writing has been done during stolen moments. I don't get to write as much as I want, but that's life.

Probably the best advice I was ever given about writing was to do it without expectations and I try to live it every day.

But to answer your question, I would drop kick the fucking crystal ball and then grind it into the dirt, because I may not sell millions of copies, but I consider myself successful already.

Linda Rodriguez said...

David, like you, I'd do it anyway. Have done it for a long time without monetary success. I was a poet, for God's sake. No one makes less money from writing than poets!

That said, I don't think any of us would turn down monetary success from writing if it came along. I certainly think it will come along eventually for you. :-)

David Cranmer said...

Keith, I'm looking forward to having that drink with you at the bar one day. We have a lot to talk about, amigo. ".. do it without expectations and I try to live it every day." Yep, I like that.

Linda, That's kind of you to say. But I'll just be content to be a working writer. No need for riches and fame. I'd just like to get by without having to work for the man. Not to much to ask for, right? :)

Ron Scheer said...

After a lifetime of never making money doing things I love, I can't say I'd do it any other way. Expect to go on loving what you love, and the rest will take care of itself.

Matthew P. Mayo said...

I'm fortunate enough to write for a living (!?) now, but I count myself doubly fortunate that I wake each day excited about what I do. I can't imagine doing much else with my time.

Fine post, David.

ClareMDavidson said...

I would keep writing. I write because I enjoy it. Making money some day would be nice, however I'd just like someone, somewhere to have a smile on their face because they've enjoyed reading something I've written.

I'm clearly an idealist ;-)

Randy Johnson said...

In my twenties, I wrote a lot, mostly for relaxation with never a thought of getting published. Life got in the way and I set it aside(which probably says a lot about any abilities as a writer).

These days my writing is confined to the blog, which is writing anyway, and, again, never any thought for anything but enjoying mself.

David Cranmer said...

Ron, Something tells me that these next few years is going to see a supernova explosion of your writing. I'm especially looking forward to more of your western writing.

That's the secret for me too, Matt. Waking up and like what you're doing. That makes all the difference.

Claire, Glad to have you in our clubhouse. :) When I get an e-mail from a reader saying a story of mine touched them in some way, well, that makes it all worthwhile.

Your blog is essential to me and many more in the writing community, Randy. I've bought more titles from you than any other reviewer out there. Never stop!

Leah J. Utas said...

Yes. I would prefer to make money at it, but I do it because there's a snickering elk with a hot, sharp spear inside me jabbing me in the stomach from behind when I don't write.

Dave King said...

Well I for one hope that Round 2 becomes a smash success, though I agree 100% with the "you're a success already" line. That is absolutely what it's all about.

Naomi Johnson said...

You, sir, are one of the unsung heroes of the world.

David Cranmer said...

"A snickering elk with a hot, sharp spear." Ha. That's a darn fine way of explaining it, Leah. I like that.

Dave, When are you going to release a collection of your poetry? I'll be first in the virtual line, sir.

Very kind words, Naomi. Thank you.

Janna Shay said...

If writing is in your soul, you do it for love not for monetary gains. Don't get me wrong, if I can make money doing what I love, then great.

But to answer your question. Yes, without a doubt, I would write even if I don't make money. The biggest thrill of my life was when my manuscript was accepted for publication.

Raiscara Avalon said...

Sure I would, since I'm still writing, and financial success? Meh. I have too many stories to tell to NOT write, it's part of my DNA.

Too...many...stories...;)

G. B. Miller (aka G) said...

It very briefly crossed my mind that my main goal was to be a financial success.

But six years later, with two published short stories, five blogs with a combined post count of over 950 and a novel coming out by the end of this year (hopefully), I still go by my personal rule doing it for the sheer enjoyment of it.

That and aiming for an audience of at least one person at any given time, because that is who I aim for with my writing.

David Cranmer said...

Janna, I know what you mean. I still remember the incredible vibe of my first story appearing in print. Nothing beats it.

"It's part of my DNA." Amen, Raiscara. I think most of here would agree with that.

G, Over 950! That's still quite an impressive output of writing.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I write because I can, so money was never the motivator. Heck, the most I ever received for a story was $200 and then it was passed up; So where did it go? To another publisher for free. I guess I'll never be a good businessman either.

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David Cranmer said...

JR, It seems like there are quite a few of us doing this for free. Labor of love and all.

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