Why do they? For the money?
I am sure some do. Patterson, Steven King, J K Rowling, Grisham, and others, all make a good living. These four became multi millionaires from their writing.
Yes, some writers make a living from their writing. However, according to the writer’s guild, 80% of all writers are starving artists. Their royalties amount to a few miserly dollars. They have day jobs and write whenever they can find some time. Some write after work until late in the night. There are young moms that write whenever their little ones take a nap. Others start writing when they retire because now they have the time to do so.
However, if the writer’s guild is correct, only 20% make a living from writing. Does that mean that 80% of all books are trash? No, not necessarily, off course I grant you, there is a share of rubbish floating around. However, a large percentage of books are a good read and don’t get the recognition. The reason for that could be that they self-published and do not have the PR or circulation. Many writers use small-press publishers that do not have the retail circulation that the major ones have. Do to downsizing most publishers leave the marketing and advertising in the hands of the writers who have neither the knowledge nor the time to handle the marketing end of the business. So, why do writers put so much work into a book for a next to nothing-monetary reward?
A book is like an iceberg. When a reader looks at a book, all he/she sees is the tip sticking out of the water. Seven-eighths of it is the work hidden below the water; like Editing-rewriting-more writing-thinking-researching-ideating-and dreaming. Oh yeah, writers dream a lot, even with open eyes. If you ever see an author’s mouths moving, and you hear no words coming out of it, don’t lock them up. They are not crazy. They are just conversing with the characters they created.
So why do they write? If you ask them, I am sure their answers vary greatly. Do some hope to strike gold with their book? I am sure there are those that do. Is it the love of the craft for others? I am positive that many love the writing process. For me, writing a story is like watching a movie. To find the answer, we have to examine when, and how, they decided to become writers. I am sure, some were avid readers in their teenage and young adult years, and advertently became fans of authors that they wanted to emulate.
Others might have majored in writing and started from there. Maybe some picked it up later because they fell in love with the written word. And some got into it by accident as I did. In my case, I never gave writing a thought. In fact, I hated writing in school; I absolutely despised it. So why did I start writing you ask?
I retired in 1998 after a fifty year carrier in corporate life and bought a computer. I played around with it, and after crashing it often enough, I learned how to use it. Creating a family tree was my first project. Since my wife and I are both German immigrants, our children and grandchildren would not know where to find the information of their ancestors. In the process, it dawned on me that the names on the piece of paper would not mean much to them without their ancestor’s stories. That is when I started to write the stories of our ancestors down in a novel format. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed the writing process. So I gave writing a try.
Since I experienced the horrors of WWII, spend two years in the US Army, plus two in the Army Reserve, I could spin enough yarn to fill a few novels. My extensive travels during my carrier to more than 50 countries, gained me an inside into many cultures, and getting to see many sites allows me to write convincingly. That is how I became a writer.
I believe the passion to tell stories is ingrained in human nature. From the time of the earliest human, back in the caves, people had a burning desire to create stories and share them with others. Evolution has not dimmed that need as more authors are stepping forward, attempting to be published.
Albert Camus (Pronounced= al-BAIR_ka-MOO), the French Algerian author, journalist and playwright, who won the 1954 French Nobel Prize for literature said it best.
“Writers write, because they must.”