When I was starting out, I wrote poetry and short stories. I never expected to earn money from writing—I bought the myth of the starving artist, empty hook, line, and sinker. I developed a sideline as a teacher, married a contractor so that I could have a house (even if it was a ruin in the ghetto), and settled in for the long haul. But as I gradually shifted to journalism—and got to know many professional writers in all genres—my expectations changed. I thought of writing not just as my calling, but as my career.
I am getting tired of keynote speeches at writers conferences (like ones I heard in 2014) that go for bombast and ignore the merits of traditional publishing. Sometimes I want to say to speakers who overlook the tremendous value that remains for writers who land a contract with a traditional publisher, “Thou doth protest too much.”
I have been taking some time over the last few months to think creatively about how to continue writing, given how hard it is to make even the $1 per word fee that used to be my minimum. Of course, I thought it was just me having a rough time (that inner critic is alive and well!). But my colleague Laura Fraser commented on her own similar experience in a recent SF Chronicle story. (It prompted her to start a new publishing platform for women, Shebooks.)