Earlier this week I was sitting a table in the breakroom at my day job, scribbling down story ideas. A random coworker approached and jokingly ask if I was writing a book. I answered straight-faced with a “yes”, causing him to look at me funny. With a sigh, I stopped writing and reached for my wallet to pull out a business card. I explained that yes I do write fiction, mostly fantasy, and had several things available on Amazon if he were interested.
I didn’t know this person. My day job is in a building with probably 400 people. I don’t know them all but I had seen this gentleman before in passing. The sigh was involuntary because I was being interrupted. Its the same as when you are trying to read or watch a movie and someone keeps talking to you. With a book or a movie often you can go back to the last line you read or rewind the film. When you are writing and someone interrupts your thoughts are gone once derailed depending on when they interrupt. In this case, everything was pouring out off the cuff and when I got suddenly got brought back to reality it was like someone turned off the water while I was drinking from the fountain.
Earlier that day I had been asked a question. I was stuck in a meeting with around sixty other people and happened to mention to one of my work friends that I have a new book of short stories out. This elicited surprise from those nearby, which confused me. I’m a writer. I don’t hide it. I thought I was quite obvious about it but it seems I wasn’t as apparent as I thought I was.
I was then asked, “If you are a writer, why aren’t you rich?”
I laughed because it doesn’t work that way. If all it took was to write and be semi-decent at it to become well off, the distribution of wealth would be much different than what it is. My answer was: “Because I am not Stephen King, and even he started off writing in the laundry room.” (I work at an appliance company so this was met with more amusement than average.)
It is intriguing to note that people still equate books with wealth. Once upon a time books were hard to come by and only the wealthy had them. However, even then, the people that wrote the books were not as well off as the people that read them. Unless you are one of the few who receive a lot of advertising and tend to be decently prolific, writing a book is not the way to fame and fortune. Which isn’t why most writers write anyway.
I mean, we wouldn’t mind a little of the fortune. We all have bills to pay and would love the chance to be able to do so without worry or the necessity of having another job. It’s just not the way things usually work; regardless if you go the traditional publishing route, go indie, or do a combination of the two.
There are some writers who make a good living. I hope to be one of them someday. I think that is the hope of most writers. Those that are actually in it for the fame and fortune are usually disappointed unless they have very good marketing teams.
Could I be more successful than I am right now? Oh absolutely. I just need to get over my ingrained insecurities, stop sighing at people who interrupt my writing when they may be potential customers, actually finish the dozens of writing projects I’ve got in the works, and then tell lots and lots of people that I have books and they should read them instead of hoping for some kind of divine osmosis to happen where everyone just suddenly knows my stuff exists.
I’ll get there one day.