Money and writing don’t need each other. We can do all kinds of things to make our living – shining shoes at the airport, walking dogs in the city, teaching 6th graders how to write really good sentences. Those are all worthy and wonderful occupations, and they may even be your vocation. But you don’t need to do them in order to have money to write. Writing is free. And while we hope, love, dance joyously when we get paid for our writing, we don’t need the pay to value our work. That value comes in the way it shapes us as people, in the way a reader writes an email to say, “yes, just that, yes,” in the way someone, someday keeps a copy of something we’ve written tucked into his Bible and reads it with teary eyes on a Sunday morning. Writing and money are mutually exclusive. ~Andi Cumbo, To You, Writer
Although I get paid (a little bit) to write, the writing I get paid to do isn't the writing that feeds my soul. Still, I take pride in making sure that it's concise, accurate, and that it conveys the pertinent medical information in an accessible way. Sometimes it's necessary to say things carefully in that writing so that it doesn't legally implicate people in the wrong way. And sometimes that writing must spell out hard medical facts which clearly denote wrongdoing that must be rectified.
This is my professional writing, and I do it well.
But then there's my real writing. The writing that takes me down meandering roads of thought, that sends me to the library to research something that's caught my interest (right now that's reclusive women writers). The writing that searches my soul, that helps me uncover feelings I never knew existed. It's the writing I share in my stories on the blog and as a contributing editor at All Things Girl. The writing I get lost in for hours at a time, until I look at the clock and wonder where the day has gone.
There's no remuneration for that writing. Unless you count the satisfaction I get from doing it, which can't be quantified with dollar amounts in the bank account.
Do I wish I made money from writing? Sure. Who doesn't wish they could make a living from doing the very thing which feeds their soul? Writing is my dessert at the end of full day, the sweetness that comes from thinking about ideas and feelings and expressing them on the page.
But as Andi says, I don't need money to write. The value comes from the way writing makes me feel, the pure pleasure of doing it and sharing it. For the love of it.
And in this consumer driven society, we writers should loudly proclaim our willingness to work for love.
For more thoughts on the relationship between art and money, check out these posts at Andilit.