Do you want to know the first thing that people say when I tell them I’m a writer? “I hope you make lots of money”. Is that what it’s all about: money? Not for writers, it isn’t.
No, I think a serious writer cares more about the craft than simply cranking out a hastily written book just to try and make quick cash. For the majority of writers, the money doesn’t roll in each month, it trickles. I’m happy that it’s a steady, monthly trickle; but a trickle it is, not a flow. Apparently the likelihood of becoming the next JK Rowling or Stephenie Meyer is like winning the lottery, in any event, so it’s best never to delude oneself.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to become a professional writer (professional defined in this context by it becoming my full time work – I’m definitely a serious writer, not doing it as a casual endeavour). What writer wouldn’t want to make a living from their passion? But the desire to make enough from my writing to pay the bills with is not what motivates me.
So, what’s my motivation? Well, considering I’ve been writing regularly since I was seven (first through a daily diary, later through short stories and poetry and eventually on to novellas and novels) I’d say that having a creative outlet is what motivates me the most.
Does that mean I don’t write for an audience? Of course not. Just because I don’t make a living from my writing doesn’t mean there aren’t readers for my books. I’ve written about this in past blog posts, but it’s always good to reiterate that I’m a writer like many others: I write the first draft primarily for myself, though the published book will have been honed for an audience.
Since the days of the Epic of Gilgamesh, or the Iliad, storytelling has been a way to tell a tall tale, to pass it on down through the ages and share a slice of artistic culture. If I were living in Sumer in 2000BC, I imagine I’d be a poverty-stricken bard orating a narrative poem to all and sundry. Or maybe an eccentric shaman.