As I mentioned back in my blog post on 03 November, for myself, success as a writer is to have my book in hardback/paperback form sold on the shelves of a bookstore. Pretty simple, right? I think so, however my wife and I recently had a discussion about success in general and then success as an artist. I cannot speak for everyone (yeesh, could you imagine that kind of nightmare if you could?) but I know for myself, I would consider it a huge accomplishment to have a book written and sold to the general public. No bestseller accolades or movie deal needed. I’m good with the one book.
Now, come on, you know I don’t mean I want to write a single book and only one. I have way too many stories floating around in my head to stop at one. The purpose of writing stories is to share them. Why else do it?
This came about because I was telling my wife how even if I did get published and was capable of writing full time and able to support us financially through those means, I would still work my day job. More than anything, it’s a personal decision (also, I think I would get super bored otherwise. I need to leave the house for a day’s worth of work in order to keep myself sane). I do not fault anyone who chooses the opposite. My hope would be you are able to fully support yourself, your family (if you have one), and maintain a level of content and happiness that lets you sleep easy every night.
Part of our conversation led into the idea that our culture does not adhere to a way of thinking that encourages artists to do what they love to do and survive by doing only that. I asked her if our society ever did this? Without doing research (I just don’t want to right now due to the rabbit hole I’d most likely fall into), I find it hard to believe that a writer, painter, sculptor, etc. could pay all the bills and plan for the future and retirement just by royalties earned from their works (notice how I didn’t mention actors or musicians. They’re a bit different). If I’m wrong, please shoot me an example. I’d love to read up on examples.
This is all not to say there were outliers but I just wonder if success comes in the form of finding time to be creative and still provide by keeping a day job. Like I said, this is just me and my mind wanders to these sorts of things every once in a while. I guess I should add a caveat and say that if I were able to live off of royalties from my books, I think I’d still work part time. Retirement is really the only stage in my life where I don’t want to go to an office every day, sit in a cube, and support a project.
If I’ve discovered anything about myself since starting this journey of writing stories, it’s that I simply love to create. Being able to do so whether I’m paid or not for it doesn’t affect my attitude in the process. And I wonder if my attitude towards writing would change if I woke up everyday and knew if I didn’t make a deadline or my next book sales are poor, I might struggle to pay the bills. Would that affect my joy and passion? Just something I think about…
Call to Action: I was serious about examples of a time period where artists could survive financially solely on the earnings from their art. Let me know!