Saturday, March 12, 2016

Economics 101

Why, dear God, did I ever aspire to write?  It makes no economic sense to put years or a lifetime into composing a novel with no expectation of the effort producing a decent return on investment.  Neither is it smart to write short stories on spec.  Word rates are slightly better for short story writers but only marginally so. In both cases one invests hours of creative time isolated from friends and family, from activities that might provide more pleasure and richer rewards, pouring out your soul for a pittance.  You'd make more money slinging burgers or joining the pizza delivery rodeo.  The advantage of these latter endevours is that you might eat better while enjoying a greater income level.

But earning money isn't your objective, is it?  No indeed; you aspire to greater heights to prove your superiority over lesser mortals for you alone have the gift of crafting the precise word, the most effective phrase, the most convincing paragraph, and the most compelling tale....on the fiftieth or one hundredth revision.  True, your odds of producing a better story than the proverbial million monkeys are better, but those monkeys don't have to edit their words or deal with editors, publishers, critics, and deadlines. Again, they probably eat better.

If  you look at the effort on the basis of an hourly rate you quickly realize that you make far less than the minimum wage and barely enough to buy extra fries for the sumptuous meal you have to celebrate a successful sale. I'm not saying that lightning doesn't occasionally strike and a precious few rake in the rewards that brings, but for the large majority of us who strive in the darkness of our rooms with only the cats for company that wondrous flash will never brighten the stygian darkness of our wallet.

There is absolutely no sense to being a speculative writer of fiction; casting  your bread upon the wicked waters of editorial whimsey, hovering over the mail in hopes that your submission has met someone's approval, and basking in the ephemeral glow of holding the stage when it is published.  But that glow fades when the next issue comes out and everybody forgets your story and worse, your name.  It's a fool's game and one few writers have a chance to win.

But that doesn't mean we can't play, does it?


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