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.

10 Replies to “Is it worth it?”

  1. Ah, but think of the satisfaction you get when that perfect line or paragraph appears seemingly out of nowhere (because we forget the blood, sweat and tears that went into it). Doesn’t that make it worthwhile?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely it does. It’s just so… rare and occurrence 😝 and we are so often our worst critics.
      But as the old saying goes the book that will change your life is the one you write so whether it’s all ‘worth it’ isn’t predicated on whether it’s viable financially.
      On that side note, the health insurance situation must be frustrating for US citizens.

      Like

      1. I’m reading your manuscript, and IMHO it has wonderful lines aplenty, actually. If you can master your inner critic and actually manifest the art inside, and that gives you joy, I’d hope that would feel worthwhile to any artist. What else is there? The lens through which you look at your art is crucial, and a potential killer of the joy that creating can bring if it’s habitually seeking ‘perfection’, so watch that. Let it flow, baby!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh yes and thanks so much for reading. And commenting. I so appreciate your time and input. The best thing for me about writing is the community. I didn’t find a community when I was painting- just an awful lot of competition

      Like

  2. I’m reading your manuscript, and IMHO it has wonderful lines aplenty, actually. If you can master your inner critic and actually manifest the art inside, and that gives you joy, I’d hope that would feel worthwhile to any artist. What else is there? The lens through which you look at your art is crucial, and a potential killer of the joy that creating can bring if it’s habitually seeking ‘perfection’, so watch that. Let it flow, baby!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It is truly a fascinating question: why do writers write? This is something I return to time and time again on Bookshelf (Da Chen was most recent post). There is a wonderful line in the film Shadowlands (a very poignant, tender and beautiful film) based on the play of the same name by William Nicholson: “We read to know we’re not alone.” Perhaps this is also true of writers, “We write to know we’re not alone.” That is to say, one of the fundamental needs of human beings is connectedness, achieved by sharing stories and experiences. Jung believed that the true purpose of life was the Journey of Discovery — essentially echoing the Greek wisdom of “knowing thyself” — but more importantly, sharing that with others. Perhaps the most profound response to the question “why do writers write” is found in William Faulkner’s incredibly eloquent and inspiring speech upon winning the Nobel Prize for literature: “It is easy enough to say that man is immortal because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.” Cheers. Alex

    Liked by 1 person

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