No one in the history of the universe invests money in a company knowing they’re going to lose all said money. Oh, some people may invest in losers because they know how to actually get more money later–yeah, real estate nightmare, anyone–but the plan is to make money eventually.
People lose money of course. Plans go awry. Hopes are dashed. Dreams are deferred.
I don’t really understand any of it. I confess a deep suspicion that making money without actually making anything in return feels wrong. This sort of thinking gets me nowhere and I’ll probably be a hair’s breath from living in a box and eating beans out of a tin when I’m old. Well, I’ll draw pictures on my box, so there.
Anyway, I want to be a writer. I guess I am a writer? (How does one even know? It’s not like I got a certificate saying so.)
And this has required the craziest kind of investment. Do you want to be a writer? Well, here is Book Street. How much are you going to invest?
How much time? I’ve written 8 novels and at least 80 short stories. That’s taken years. How much money have I made with my writing? $10. That’s less than a dollar per year.
(Thankfully, I like baked beans.)
Well, if you count the cost paper, ink, and postage, I think that $10. is, well, not going to cover it.
But I’m finally, FINALLY!!, going to have my first novel, The Blue Jar published. I am happy. Happy about this fact. Make no mistake. The feeling that I’m dragging my battered carcass over a finish line is nothing compared to the feeling of knowing I have reached that finish line.
Although, it isn’t a finish line, is it?
I’ve got all those other manuscripts, and more I want to write. And I’ll write even if they move the finish line across an ocean on fire and on the other side of a mountain of knives.
But it’s a lot to ask my family. Hey, sacrifice all this money and time on my dream! But else does a person say? Don’t mind me. I’ll give up my dream because you’re here.
No. Not going to do that.
There are no guarantees. No one can predict how a book will sell. My book could sell thousands of copies or next to none. All this work, time, and money and I could still be left with an unread book. And several never-going to be read books.
What kind of investment is the writing life and why do we do it?
I think Wall Street is too risky, and yet I do this.
Hope springs eternal. And foolishly. Gloriously.
“The point is that writing, for lack of a better occupation, is good. Writing is right, writing works. Writing clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Writing, in all of its forms; writing for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And writing, you mark my words, will not only save my life, but that other malfunctioning part of me called my soul. Thank you very much.”*
*Totally lifted from the Gordon Gekko speech in the movie Wall Street. (Though I’ve never actually seen the movie.)
6 thoughts on “Investaphobia”
Oh, dear, I just discovered I subscribed to your lovely blog a while ago and…and…it’s stuck inside my computer some place. Who can fathom? Your story is such a gosh darn plucky tale, my little whiskers are getting dewy. It’s a good day when another writer says “I’m dragging my battered carcass over the finish line.” A fine, fine day.
Thank you for reading, Helen. I admit to feeling less plucky and more plucked, but if someone else is moved by it, I’ll keep dragging my battered carcass along.
Luckily for both of us, our households deal indulgently with this “Leave me alone — I must spend hours and hours not making money or anything else I can show you right now” habit.
I’m still a few years away from retirement, and have never been one to hate my job. So it’s come as a surprise in recent months to find myself suddenly imagining — daydreaming about — a life in which many/most writing sessions don’t require me to keep an eye on the clock. Of course, one part of me thinks that if I’d just worked a bit harder at the writing — or were naturally better at it — I’d already have earned that lifestyle, haha.
Investment: eek. I’m a scaredy-cat investor. A good chunk of my retirement savings is tied up in very cautious kinds of investments: low-risk and correspondingly low-yield. A few years ago this made me feel unpleasantly smug, as friends would tell me how much money their accounts had lost, while mine had just been chugging along. A tortoise among crippled hares. But then things started to pick up again… Sigh. Back to the old inferiority complex.
Retirement?! Oh, grad school, oh Peace Corps, oh, years of working 22 hours a week…I’m not seeing retirement in my future. Every time I think about it, I wonder if I should start stocking up on canned food and cardboard boxes now.
I think I’m going to stop thinking about it so that I can sleep.
Thank you for this post. I don’t even know you and I admire you. I’ll be looking for your book!
I’m a writer. I think. I’ve thought I was for years but for months now I haven’t had anything to say. I think a writer had to have something to say, right? I wonder, then, why I can’t just love books and move on from trying to write them.
Thank you, keetha, for reading.
Maybe your a writer having a dry spell. The ground of the imagination can’t always be fertile. It needs a rest, and then things come back in bloom.
As for something to say…that’s tricky. I don’t know that I have anything to say. Maybe I do. I don’t know. I start writing with an image in my mind and I don’t know where the story is going to go or what it is really going to be about. I start with the image in my mind and see what happens. I think I would need someone else to tell me if my stories say anything.
This worries me. I should know, right?
Just write something small. One little thing for today. And see what happens.