Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Different Goal Question

About a year ago, I ran across a question on Rachelle Gardner's blog.  I still find myself thinking about it, so I thought I'd throw it out here for some more perspectives!

The question is pretty simple.  Would you rather be (1) an author who publishes relatively frequently, receives mediocre reviews, and still makes a comfortable living writing or (2) an author who can only afford to write part-time but whose work receives fabulous reviews and awards?

I usually find myself leaning towards #2.  I want to produce the most amazing material that everybody loves, and if that means I can't make a living by writing...well, I'm okay with that.  But then there's this magical allure: the idea that I could possibly even make money doing something that I love.  It's hard to shake, and does it really matter whether or not everybody else loves me?

I'm trying to polish off a couple manuscripts right now, so this question keeps floating in front of my eyes while I try to focus on the computer screen.  What do you think--which would you prefer?


Susanna Leonard Hill said...

That's such a hard question to answer. On the one hand, as a writer, you do hope to be read - to share your thoughts/stories with others - so it would be nice to be published more frequently. On the other, you can't please everybody. No matter how well you write, there will be some people who find fault - just look at the reviews on GoodReads. On the other (and yes, I know we're up to the third hand :)) it would be nice to earn a living at writing, but it's pretty hard to do. Some people obviously do manage it, but I think there are more for whom the income is supplemental. But since the nature of the question is really to decide between highly praised writing and money, I guess I would go for the highly praised writing - but that is because I have the luxury of not being solely dependent on my own income :)

Peggy Eddleman said...

Sorry, but I'm going to go with number one. I plan to always be working to become a better writer. If I am able to do it full time, it gives me THAT MUCH MORE TIME to do it. :) Is it a cheating answer to choose one, with the expectation that it will someday become the best of both?

Patricia T. said...

I want to write a good book and be true to myself, not necessarily the trends in the publishing world. So, I'd have to choose #2. Yes, it would be nice to have an income, but ultimately it boils down to have I written a good book. I enjoyed reading everyone's posts and ejoyed the dialogue. Carla -- a very thought-provoking question.

Gail Shepherd said...

oh criminey, do we really have to make a choice? we can't write good books and also make a comfortable living? I have to say I lean toward #1 also, because I feel like I could game the system and write really good books if I were doing it full time! So I'm with Peggy Eddleman. I starved in my peripatetic youth, I don't want to go there again--although "a comfortable living" for me, since I live so simply, is actually not much money at all.

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Carla said...

Thanks for your perspectives! You ladies have voiced some of the exact things that keep going back and forth in my mind!

Susanna, I agree--you really can't please everyone! That's why I tend to lean toward #2! ;) Still, money does have a strange appeal!

Peggy, I don't think that's cheating! I think it would be awesome to work out that way!

Patricia, I know what you mean--I think it is important to be proud of what you've created!

Gail, I suppose in reality, I hope that none of us have to make a choice and that we can all do both! Still, I think the question plays to our motivation, which affects how/what we write! ;) Either way, I suspect a writer should be ready to live simply!


Michelle Teacress said...

Number two, for sure - but I'd lean toward number one if the circumstances required. Bills have to be paid, right?

Have a great week, Carla!

Amie Kaufman said...

Number two for me, but I'm in an incredibly fortunate position -- I have a job I love, and that makes it an easy pick.

Carla said...

Michelle, #2 is my favorite too, but I'm definitely a fan of paying bills!

Amie, That's great! I'm lucky that way too...I think it does help! That said, I'm certainly in a place where a little extra money is always helpful!


Dawn M. Hamsher said...

Number 2 for me. I can only write part-time due to working full-time. So, I have about 15 more years before I retire. I'm content with that. I will just continue to learn all I can about writing until I can write full time. I should be pretty good by then. ;0)

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