Sunday, 10 July 2011


Writers don't earn a lot - forget visions of J K Rowling in her castle - that doesn't happen to many, honest. But this week has been good as weeks go.

A few hundred quid plus expenses for working at Winchester - and they put me up, fed me and watered me all weekend, like a prize petunia - so that's great.
Another hundred plus a half-hundred for a short story commission, from a much-respected University, for their annual anthology. The editor loved the story I sent as much as I loved it, so all well and good - details in due course.
I am giving a lovely writer feedback on another chapter of her novel. Half-hundred per chapter.

Mind you, not all weeks are like this. Mostly, they are barren, sandy wastelands peopled by hungry husbands and sons crying for food. Well, kind of. They are waiting for the ££ to roll in! Fink they will be waiting a long time!


  1. Hooray! Nice to get a wonga for your work, innit! And long may it continue!

  2. Well done you! The long-anticipated call that I need to start paying my way in all this has finally come, and it feels me with fear. You, as always, are an inspiration. xo

  3. Thanks both - Sue, Im not sure I am an inspiration - but thanks for the thought. I know that its important to say things as they are - so newbie writers can go into this thing with eyes wide open. I used to try to pay my way with comp wins etc - although I took the view that to stay at the same level was faintly ridiculous, so stopped sending out to smaller ones, until I got to Bridport, then stopped. Teaching then took over. But of course, I never really was paying my way - travelling to far-flung places to give readings took petrol, or cash, sometimes staying in a B and B took more. Travelling to Ireland plus a car was expensive but so so worth it! I have never dared to calculate my outgoings versus income - I know which way the balance would be! But then I was told ages back by the lovely Carole Hayman, that my husband was now my 'patron' - that sounded fine to me! Said husband is now retired - with all the imbalances that brings anyway - and now - I don't feel I can do anything unless its me that pays for it. (Thank heavens for The Cowards Tale!) But thats just me - not intending to spread guilt! xx

  4. You know, whenever I see a writer interviewed on a blog or elsewhere, I always want the question asked: 'but how do you actually earn a living?'

    I wonder how many writers have dull other lives that they just don't talk about? How many don't need to earn a living at all?

    As a reader, it shouldn't matter, I suppose; it's the work that's important, not how it was funded. But as a writer, I always want to know.

    Maybe I'm just nosey!

  5. What brings me down is whenever I mention about being a writer I am often asked how much I make. Then inevitably, the comparison to J K. She is a very lovely person - I've met her a few times - but she is as bloody shocked by the whole thing as most writers. I also hate it when people use her as a reason to write. But I truly do not have the ambition to be very rich from writing. However, it is exciting for someone to say: you are worth something, I value you, have some reward.

    I think the Coward's Tale will inevitably lead to more bookings, more projects. I know from your schedule that you already work incredibly hard. Let's hope a bit of comfort in the way of monetary reward comes in as well. After all, champagne and good food ain't cheap and what is life without indulgences.

  6. Neil - so do I! Especially if no other 'job' is mentioned. But then they are being interviewed as writers - if a brain surgeon was being interviewed, or a philosopher, soldier or historian, the interview would be about the topic in question - not 'how much do you earn'?! Maybe we are interested because a) we do this stuff and b) we know how hard it is to carve time out of other things to do what we have to.
    And maybe the difference is that we'd do it anyway, even if we earned nothing? I like to think that is correct - but actually, I don't think I would be. I certainly wouldn't spend as much time as I do teaching and encouraging others, now, unless I was paid, much as I love it, because it takes me away from creating. Unless it was going back to the teaching I did right at the start - voluntary work in a rehab or something like that.

  7. Hi Julia - maybe us lot split into two camps - those like me who just wanted to write, and those who saw 'being a writer' as some sort of fame-game to aspire to?
    Yes, I often get the 'so how much do you earn'? question - ad that is so rude, when you think about it! But there you go - what other 'professional' would dream of writing a post to say 'look, I had a good week for once, and this is how it panned out!'

    Yup, it has been v hard work, with lots of highs and a few (not many!) lows on the way. I am just incredibly lucky to be doing this - and I think that even when I hate it...(and I bet that makes sense to no-one except another writer!)

  8. When I was young I decided I would have lots of children and be an old-fashioned stay-at-home Mum with a literary habit. In theory it worked, but kids are hugely demanding, divorce and upheaval don't help, and there have been years when I lived hard and never wrote a word.

    Now certain things are in place but my clean creating time is so precious! I really admire you for getting out there with your work and spirit.

  9. Congratulations on the good week, Vanessa! An article in Poets & Writers this month on "How I Made my First Million" by Marion Winik. An experience very much like yours.

  10. V. I'd certainly be doing the writing if I weren't paid for it. I know that because I am doing it and earning nothing from it!

    Actually, setting aside some of my life for something from which I expect absolutely no financial reward is part of the appeal.

    The business writing I do pays enough to finance my more 'creative' endeavours; I am my own patron. I've made an accommodation between art and commerce that works well enough for me.

    I do get a little annoyed though when I read those interviews where a writer says 'I used to do xxxx but gave it all up to focus on my art', when what they really mean is 'I got married and didn't need to work any more'.

    But I quickly get over it!