I have a friend who has been a cheerleader of my writing from day one. He often says “Don’t forget the little people when you make it big.”
I love his “when.”
Then there is someone in my life who has said, “Nice little hobby you have there. You won’t make any money at it.”
Or how about this comment, “Oh, so is that what you’re doing now? How nice for you. When are you going to get a real job?”
The holidays bring out the worst in people. I try to generally be gracious to those who don’t understand that my writing and editing is a real job and that I work very hard at it. I will be forever grateful for those people who have supported, encouraged and believed in me and my writing before I’ve made my mark on the publishing world.
So often authors cite parents or spouse as being those supporters. That’s not the case for me. My grandmother is a grand cheerleader though.
The comment I’ve heard before and expect to hear on Thanksgiving Day though is this: “How much money do you make?”
Stop. Wait. Excuse me? Where in any part of civilization is this an appropriate question? Between authors it might be acceptable in discussing the challenge to actually talk about *gasp* money, but if I went to my family members and asked how much they got paid for the work they do, well, they would be offended.
So what makes any of them think it’s okay to ask me such a question? Stephen King doesn’t make his tax return public knowledge, does he?
Since I write historical fiction I’m going to revert back to a more respectable time when people did not ask such questions. Wait. Even in Regency England a man was known by how much he made a year and it was used as a measuring stick to determine whether he was worthy husband material.
But I’m not looking for a husband.
So my response? “Thank you for your interest in my writing. In response to your question, it’s none of your business.”
It isn’t. There is nothing that says I have to answer every question posed to me no matter how authentic and real I strive to be in my life. Some things can be and should be private. The fact is, the amount of money I earn, much like the size of my clothing, does not determine my value in the eyes of God. He is the reason I write and yes, the IRS will know, but unless I start making millions, I doubt I will ever want to share that kind of information, especially with those who have not encouraged and supported me.
Will Smith has said “If you are absent during my struggle, don’t expect to be present during my success.” Well said, Will.
Have a wonderful thanksgiving and for those of you who have prayed, supported and encouraged me on my journey (and you know who you are!), I am thanking God for the gift of you in my life. I may not make much money now, but I’m rich in the relationships my writing has brought into my life.
Susan, I know what you mean, so many of those comments come my way. Yes, especially the … Do you make any money or how much money do you get for your books?
Well, I’m sure I get white faced. I’m thinking, when did I ask you what you made.” Then of course it’s that time you feel like you have to defend you desire to write and explain why you don’t travel in Nora Robert’s circles.
Right! The majority of authors do not reach those heights and some maintain those heights regardless of talent. We live in a fickle world. WE need to stop defending ourselves and call people on their rudeness. Writers deserve respect just like anyone else.
Oof. Writing is hard enough without feeling that you have to defend yourself. Editing is hard enough without needing to wave paystubs that justify the hours and skill and discernment needed. So glad you have those cheerleaders to even things out!
I had almost forgotten about all those questions that come during the holidays! Glad I am not alone in being asked. So, glad to see Beth was your Paul during WTP; didn’t know that was your first conference.
That was 2012 (not this year) and the start of a wonderful adventure and friendship.
Here’s a response I love. Picture an expression of wild-eyed shock, with the words, “YOU wrote a book?”
As if you sprouted wings!
I’m not sure why but the hobby comment bothers me the most. “That’s a nice little hobby for you.”
I’m glad to have read your post, Susan. It reminds me I don’t need to feel compelled (my natural response) to answer comments about money when asked.
Yeah, people can be condescending, can’t they? I am blessed in the friendships I’ve made!
Thanks for your encouraging article. It can be discouraging to hear these questions and comments from people, especially people who are your relatives and friends. It makes me appreciate my cheerleaders all the more. God bless you. Have a happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas!