May 31, 2009

Novelist Kate Atkinson would rather not be published

Crime novelist Kate Atkinson noted at the Hay Festival this weekend that while she loves to write, she would rather not have to publish. Her position is fascinating to me largely because I just don't get the sense that publishing is something that I *have* to do. I accepted long ago that while I would love to make a living off of my creative writing, it's probably not going to happen. Ever. Heck, I've been freelancing for almost two months and yet to make any real money off of that either (which is a little terrifying - when am I going to figure out how to turn my writing into viable self-employment?). I've always been aware that there will need to be something else in my life for me to make money from. I've just never thought that my creative work would be my sole source of income, so publishing has always been the ideal, the goal I want to reach, but also something I have learned to live without. I just approach my writing with an entirely different mindset.

What are your thoughts and expectations for publishing?


SalsaBilly said...

Don't give up. I have spent all of my adult life chasing a paycheck rather than my dreams. I prefer to live rural, not metro, so I earned pennies at rural newspapers as reporter, editor and general manager. Inevitably I would go for a sales and marketing job so bills could be paid, kids fed, etc. I went years without writing a poem, yet that is how I have always, personally, defined myself since I was 16 - I am a poet. Write for the joy, for the love of it first - for the pay second. You've only been freelancing for a couple of months - fact is, you are talented and an excellent writer - but it will take a couple of years before it begins to truly pay off. When I was in my 30s I was working radio, editing a newspaper and getting magazine articles published - having a great time, but starving and failing my family. I don't regret the choice to take a job that paid the bills - I regret that I shelved my creativity for so long when I really didn't have to put it aside. Too long a story here - to sum it up - you are talented, you have the gift - don't give up!

Crafty Green Poet said...

I write almost solely poetry (though have had an unpaid contract for writing reviews). I get published a fair amount but rarely have I been paid. The most i ever got paid was for helping to write a play for a community theatre and that was a pittance! i know that poetry doesn't make money and that's fine. I prefer to have a 'day job' as well (it gives me a groundign in real life!) and its great that i can afford to work part time and have plenty of time to write.