Once again, I find myself having to remind myself why I write. Is it…worth it? The time? The effort? The money spent on covers, editors, author copies… It’s so important to consider what success looks like to you. Is the success in the writing or in the selling?
This is something that pops up every few months, especially as I near the end or the second draft of manuscript and get to the part where I need the finishing energy to kick in. I heard this phrase on The Creative Penn podcast. I’ve got a cover in the works (and the first rough attempt by the artist couldn’t be worse…it’s so awful), proof-reading pending, a novella and short story collection to package and a first draft to complete. I really, really need that finishing energy! But then I seem to always be finishing something and starting something else at the same time!
Speaking of podcasts, I was listening the The Writer’s Well and heard something unsettling. J Thorne, a very well known indie author was pondering the question above. Is it all worth it? For fuck’s sake, if someone at his stage in the business is asking that question, what hopes have the rest of us? He was referring mostly to his fiction writing. Many indie fiction writers supplement their income with non-fiction how-to-write type books. Although he didn’t elaborate further, I gathered he was unhappy that more of his income didn’t come from fiction, or even wholly from fiction. I mean, that would be the dream, wouldn’t it? To go the full Lee Child.
Then they discussed a truly unique situation for writers and other creatives in the USA – health insurance. In Australia, we have an excellent national health provider, Medicare. According to Wikipedia, in 2004, employer-sponsored health insurance premiums grew 11.2% to $9,950 for family coverage, and $3,695 for a single person. Top cover health insurance in Australia is around half this amount and not really necessary as emergency and even non-emergency procedures (there is a wait time) are covered by Medicare. (Personally, we have private cover because we own a business and don’t want to deal with wait-times should one of us require surgery.) Listening further, I got the feeling that much of the reason J was contemplating the sense of working so hard for so little return was to do with health insurance. Working as a teacher, he could access subsidised cover but then he wouldn’t have the freedom of being a self-employed.
I’m glad that’s one less thing for Australian creatives to have to worry about!
So, is it worth it? I plan to find out.