“There is no telling how many miles you will have to run while chasing a dream.” But the inspirational quote makes no mention of how much chasing a dream might cost in pounds and pennies. Like the dress stashed at the back of the wardrobe (it was a bargain, and I’ll get lots of wear out it, honestly!), sometimes it’s best not to admit to the true cost of spending money on something you love. And I’m all for listening to Jessie J’s advice, “It’s not about the money, money, money… Forget about the price tag.”
But it was still a great feeling this week to receive the first cheque I’ve ever been given for writing. Woo Hoo! I won 2nd place in the Roy Wood Short Story Memorial Competition run by Alloa Writers group.
You can read my story, ‘Practice Makes Perfect’, here.
And my picture was in, drum roll please, the Alloa Advertiser (okay it’s not the Arts section of the Glasgow Herald but I’m all for keeping it real and supporting local newspapers striving to report what matters most in the community, e.g. page 3 has the headline, ‘Bin torched in Alloa’ and page 5 ‘Lamb bitten’ yes, these are actual news story, even as a fiction writer, I couldn’t make them up).
So over and above being a media star in Clackmannanshire (I daren’t go near the Hillfoots in case I’m mobbed for autographs), the £50 was most welcome as a very small step towards offsetting the thousands of pounds I’ve spent on following my writing ambitions. To date, there’s been Arvon residential courses x 2, numerous day courses/conferences/workshops, author events, books, not to mention the biggies giving up the day job to do the MLitt course. If I added up the cost, eh, well… let’s not go there! I don’t think hubby would want to see the actual figure in black and white.
On Twitter this week, lots of folk I follow made me laugh with the hashtag #thingsnottosaytoawriter and one of the most common phrases was a variation on “So what do you do for money?” I could relate to that, especially after ignoring the voice of reason and giving up my day job.
But once I’m a successful writer, I’ll be able bask in my fame and fortune, right? And I don’t need to worry about bagging that rare elusive beast-a traditional publishing deal; I can always self-publish and cut out the middle man. The phenomenal commercial success of trash books like Fifty Shades of Grey should surely spur me on (or turn me on if the ‘mummy porn’ hype is true).
So what am I waiting on? I could upload the two books I’ve already written today, sit back and rake in the profits…
Maybe not, in fact it’s highly unlikely that I would become rich by going down the self-publishing route. A recent article in the Guardian, ‘Stop the press: half of self-published authors earn less than $500’ made it very clear that the millions of dollars made by the likes of EL James and Amanda Hocking are the exceptions. If you’re like me and want to be a writer, you’re not in it for the money (although as Tesco says, every little helps).