And now, a word from our sponsor

I came across this article from Salon.com while on Facebook. (Thanks, Lynne Marie!)

Boy, is it the truth! Writers rarely talk about how they make a living. Most of us have day jobs. Many of us, like Ann Bauer in her article, have supportive spouses or partners. Some of us have both.

But many writers have neither – and their success as writers gives them the appearance of making their living from writing. All too often, as Bauer demonstrates, the reality is that their private financial circumstances or connections contribute to their success and should be acknowledged.

Bauer really struck a chord with me. Like her, I’m married to a loving and supportive husband who has a good job. We’re not wealthy, but we’re comfortable enough to live on his salary. When we were married, I worked full time and owned my own home. My mother pointed out that if I wanted to stay home with any future children, we’d be better off learning to live on just one salary and putting the other away. (Good advice!)

I took that advice to heart, and while I have worked part-time in public and school libraries on and off over the past several years, I’ve had plenty of time to stay home with my child, volunteer in schools, and yes, begin writing seriously. (By that, I mean writing with the intent for publication. Not just journaling, not just putting words on paper, but treating writing as my career instead of my library work. Complete with business cards, software, the laptop, workshops, conferences – all the professional accoutrements. One day, I would love an office. In my dreams! I’m lucky I have a desk. πŸ™‚ )

Before reading Bauer’s article, I never knew what to call my situation. Obviously my family was not scraping by on the salary of a part-time librarian! But it always rankled me when well-meaning folks would say that I didn’t work. I worked a LOT. I just didn’t get paid for it.

Sponsorship is the perfect word for it. My beloved husband sponsors me, just like Nike sponsors pro athletes. He believes in me and shows it by supporting our family mostly solo, so I can pursue my writing. One day, I want to do the same for him.

Ann Bauer is right. By being open about our circumstances – financial or otherwise – we do aspiring writers a service. Writing is not easy. It takes hard work. And that work is made much easier when you’re not working full-time. Or two or more part-time jobs. Or caring for young children or elderly parents. Aspiring writers deserve the truth that no matter how hard you work or how talented you are, writing requires support. Mental, emotional, financial.

Connections matter, too. Living in New York has given me opportunities I would not have had before we moved here. I haven’t always been wise enough to take advantage of those opportunities, but I’m going to be wiser – and bolder – this year. (And even if you don’t live in New York, make connections! SCBWI is your friend. Plenty of networking opportunities in person and online.)

That’s not to say that you can’t succeed as a writer without support or connections. You can. But it will be MUCH harder.

I wish I could say I’m one of those folks. But I’m not. As I explained to a friend back when I was working full-time in corporate America, plenty of writers succeeded in writing with a day job (see Wallace Stevens or Jorge Luis Borges).

I wasn’t one of them. I’m more like Harper Lee, who was given a year off to write by a friend. (To Kill a Mockingbird, anyone? And we’re similar in situation alone. I don’t claim her talent!)

Here’s to my husband, for whom and to whom I’m grateful! May you be equally blessed in writing and in life.

 

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7 thoughts on “And now, a word from our sponsor

  1. Leslie, I too read that article. It’s very true…there are many writers who have the luxury (well, I consider it a luxury) to be able to focus large amounts of time, etc. on their craft. Just today I read about the day in the life a particular writer and she is able to spend her days writing or reading or whatever. In fact, many people who write probably don’t need to be published in order for hopes that it will bring income so the time factor isn’t urgent. For me, that’s not the case, unfortunately, but I always keep hope that I can get things manageable enough to be able to start really writing other than letters, emails, comments on blogs and an occasional blog post of my own. I want to write my novels! πŸ˜€

    We all have different situations and I’m glad yours is what it is. Your mother was DEFINITELY right! πŸ˜€

    1. It is indeed a luxury! Although it may not be one of mine much longer, as I am seeking full-time work or at least an increase in hours for my freelance contract. Here’s hoping our time stretches to meet our needs!

  2. Yep. My switch from a salaried writer/editor to freelancer would not have been possible if my wife didn’t want to go back to work full time (and get the corresponding insurance benefits). The freelance writing life is too risky to not have a good plan in place.

  3. I’m going to jump in and agree with you. The Coffee King is our bread winner and for that I am grateful. He has managed to earn enough money to support our family without my help since Noodge 1 was born. Ever since I decided to take my writng seriously, he supported me completely. My main gig is taking care of the Noodges, but as they get older my jobs have evolved and that allows me to be a full-time writer. Well, really a part-time writer because my second job starts at 3 when the Noodges come from school and I become the chauffer, chef, referee, time manager, cheerleader, and on and on.

  4. I used to not tell people that I wrote because it didn’t “seem” like work to others. Then, I decided to come out of the writing closet and be proud of my hard work…and passion…and ambition.

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