Like that headline? Drew you in didn’t it? Made your heart pick up the beat a bit, maybe? And your palms got a little sweaty. Money has a way of doing that to people.
The October issue of Writer’s Digest is all about writing and money. I’ve noticed that, for some reason, combining the two seems to make many writers very, very nervous. Guilty even.
I felt like I was being a bit crass, frankly, when I wrote the editor’s note for the issue. Here’s what I wrote:
The Truth About Money
If there’s a dirty little secret in the writing world—it’s money.
Who’s making it, who’s not, how to get more of it and how to act like it’s not really that important. We writers often like to pretend that thoughts and worries about money are secondary to our loftier artistic goals.
Well, here’s a dirty little truth: Money is important. William Shakespeare wrote for money. Mark Twain wrote for money. Stephen King writes for money. You don’t have to feel guilty about wanting or needing to make money from your writing—there’s a well-worn path before you.
Even as I was writing this, knowing it sounded somewhat crass and definitely non-ivory-towerish, I felt like a weight was being released from my chest. I knew then this was something that was really bothering me, somehow, and I think it must bother other writers, too.
Why do we feel guilty wanting to make money from our writing? Is this something the world does to writers—or something we do to ourselves? Do you expect to make money from your writing? Do you feel guilty asking to be paid for your writing? Tell me why…
p.s. In case you, like me, slept through high school lit, that headline is a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby describing his money-loving Zelda-esque character Daisy Buchanan.