Love or Money?

"My parents wanted me to study science, to become an engineer. That makes a lot of sense, it’s a reliable, well-paid profession. Being a writer is bloody insecure, especially if you’re trying to support a family. But engineering doesn’t come close to making me happy the way writing does." -Sarwat Chaddah

I've been thinking about this quote from Sarwat's interview because it has been a recurring theme throughout my life. Do I write for love or for money? And is it possible to do both?

My father was a school teacher and my mom was a school secretary. The idea of becoming a writer was never a career option. Mostly I wanted to be a marine biologist, but you can't do that very well if you get motion sickness at the drop of a hat, so I became a teacher and then, eventually, a teacher of teachers. But all along the way I wrote stories. Not for money. Just because. I wrote them on notebook paper tucked away in dresser drawers, in journals with bright blue pens, and finally on computers in a file labeled "writing." And something strange happened. I learned I could make money with what I wrote. It was such an alien concept. You make up something in your head and people pay you for it.

My first experience with being "paid" for my writing was when I won the local newspaper contest for a Father's Day essay. I was eight and I won a clock radio (remember those?). It was very cool. Later, much later, I found myself writing for PBS and making a lot of money with what I made up in my head (at least it was for me). Teaching at the university and still writing on the "side," I was the only one writing for the television show that wasn't a full time writer. I just couldn't make the leap. All of my childhood values of job security and common sense were screaming at me to not give up the day job. Even so, I developed a problem. Making money from my writing meant I began to write for money. That pressure changed the way I thought about writing. I couldn't just write anything anymore. I needed an idea that would sell. It was a total creative buzz kill.

I have many friends that do a wonderful job of balancing the creative side of writing with the business side. I even know some that also have the incredible talent to support themselves as full time writers. Sometimes I'm jealous of that opportunity, but then I remember how I get sea sick when the waves are too high, and I know I probably have to go with a safer choice. But maybe, just maybe, one of these days I'll figure out how to have both -- love and money.


That is an age old problem! I write for love and keep writing, and writing in hopes that at some point it will be the right book at the right time. If I wrote for money I fear it would be terrible!

Post a Comment

Grid_spot theme adapted by Lia Keyes. Powered by Blogger.


discover what the Muses get up to when they're not Musing

an ever-growing resource for writers

Popular Musings

Your Responses

Fellow Musers