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Old 12-07-2013, 12:40 AM   #1
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Writing on empty

An article from "The Age" Life & Style section: Writing on empty

Quote:
The most obvious fact of professional writing is money - and its scarcity. Authors in Australia earn, from their writing, approximately one-sixth of average annual income and one fifth of the median: around $11,000. It is rarely a living wage.
[...]
US author and University of California creative writing lecturer Thomas Farber, for example, says he is a writer, but also a ''husband, son, citizen, sibling, editor, teacher, consultant, etc''. Yet he sees his writing practice as precious, and is ''single-minded'' about pursuing it. ''I've found that writing time is stolen,'' he writes, ''from an unwilling world.''
[...]
The work can satisfy urges to explore and create, but it can also be solitary, lonely and poorly recompensed. As such, it is a fraught, mercurial role. What's often vital for sustaining this project is a strong identity: writers affirming that they are writers, whatever else they might be. The ambition, like the art, is a work in progress.
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Old 12-07-2013, 01:35 AM   #2
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Writer's had the same problem a century ago. Many of the great science fiction writers of the pulp days had to write a lot just to try to make a living.
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Old 12-07-2013, 09:18 AM   #3
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Yes, it has always been thus and not only writers, but in the other arts as well.

from the article:
Quote:
Because of lower incomes, full-time writers are as rare as six-figure advances and stable newspaper columns. Most novelists and non-fiction authors we spoke to also have paying day jobs: lawyer, librarian, journalist, academic. Their literary careers are worked in around the edges.
Which is typical. Very few fiction/poetry/etc writers actually make a 'living wage' from it. Most have a day job -- teaching, technical or journalistic writing, doctor, engineer etc.

Only the top tier like Steven King, etc. are able to live on it and even then we have the vast disparity between the incomes like his and the rest who have to have that day job just to survive.

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Old 12-07-2013, 12:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kennyc View Post
Yes, it has always been thus and not only writers, but in the other arts as well.

from the article:


Which is typical. Very few fiction/poetry/etc writers actually make a 'living wage' from it. Most have a day job -- teaching, technical or journalistic writing, doctor, engineer etc.

Only the top tier like Steven King, etc. are able to live on it and even then we have the vast disparity between the incomes like his and the rest who have to have that day job just to survive.

Yep and even the top tier writer's started out having to work other jobs to make ends meet til they made it. Mr. King was a teacher and would spend his summers working in a laundry to keep his family going.
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Old 12-09-2013, 07:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kennyc View Post
Yes, it has always been thus and not only writers, but in the other arts as well.

[....]

Only the top tier like Steven King, etc. are able to live on it and even then we have the vast disparity between the incomes like his and the rest who have to have that day job just to survive.

As I said before: If you wish to be sure of being able to support yourself with a profession, you have to choose a profession that produces stuff that people need (= provide products or services that people *must* buy, or they're in trouble), not stuff that you must hope that people want and are willing to spend some money on.

I'm not saying I like that, but this is the way it has been for a long time.

There is not a lot of middle ground in the arts; either you don't earn enough to support yourself (or just enough to barely support yourself), or you are world famous and are earning money by the millions.

It's the same for photographers; most of them support themselves by photographing stuff that others need them to take pictures of: weddings, products, whatever. Very few photographers can live off something like street or landscape photography. (The ones that can, are almost certainly famous to some extent.)

Last edited by Katsunami; 12-09-2013 at 07:55 PM.
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Old 12-09-2013, 08:28 PM   #6
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Yet you complain about lawyer hourly fees.
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Old 12-09-2013, 08:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kennyc View Post
Yet you complain about lawyer hourly fees.
Yes, because the fees of many lawyers are IMHO way out of proportion. I can't fathom on what they are based. In most other professions, people would get scoffed at if they asked $500-1000 for an hour's work.

Last edited by Katsunami; 12-09-2013 at 08:35 PM.
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Old 12-09-2013, 08:37 PM   #8
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I'd never thought of the legal profession as one of the arts ... there might be some truth in that.
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Old 12-09-2013, 08:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
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I'd never thought of the legal profession as one of the arts ... there might be some truth in that.
They fall under the Dramatic Arts.
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Old 12-09-2013, 09:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmw View Post
I'd never thought of the legal profession as one of the arts ... there might be some truth in that.
It's a reference to another topic. Still, some lawyers are very artful in interpreting laws and evidence, I grant you that.
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Old 12-10-2013, 03:14 AM   #11
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They fall under the Dramatic Arts.
Certainly not the liberal arts.
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Old 12-10-2013, 03:15 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Katsunami View Post
As I said before: If you wish to be sure of being able to support yourself with a profession, you have to choose a profession that produces stuff that people need (= provide products or services that people *must* buy, or they're in trouble), not stuff that you must hope that people want and are willing to spend some money on.

I'm not saying I like that, but this is the way it has been for a long time.

There is not a lot of middle ground in the arts; either you don't earn enough to support yourself (or just enough to barely support yourself), or you are world famous and are earning money by the millions.

It's the same for photographers; most of them support themselves by photographing stuff that others need them to take pictures of: weddings, products, whatever. Very few photographers can live off something like street or landscape photography. (The ones that can, are almost certainly famous to some extent.)
Like Ansel Adams.
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Old 12-10-2013, 09:56 AM   #13
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Like Ansel Adams.
That guy's not only famous, he's a legend in landscape photography, just as Henry Cartier-Bresson is a legend in street photography.
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:28 AM   #14
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Certainly not the liberal arts.
Which makes one wonder is there a conservative arts?
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Old 12-10-2013, 06:11 PM   #15
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Something perverse can happen: artists can labor in obscurity in their lifetimes and all but starve, and generations after they die, their work is worth a fortune. It is loved and fought over. That is the most interesting thing about the starving artist to me.

What happens?
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