- The First No. 1 Rule of Writing: Write because you love to write for the sake of writing.
- The Second No. 1 Rule of Writing: Don’t quit your day job.
The Rest of the stuff, agents, editors, publishing houses, marketing and the like, all comes later.
There are an estimated 130 million books written in modern history. Amazon gives readers access to more than 12 million titles. Around two thousand books are published in the United States every day, more books than the most voracious reader could consume in a lifetime. A book that sells 1,000 copies in this environment is a real success. Congratulations, your huge effort might just pay a month’s rent every few years. If you like sleeping indoors, you best get yourself a day job. An average journalist makes about $34,000 a year. A great journalist might pull in $70,000 a year. As you can see, even for the college educated, professional writers, writing is not about the money. You have better odds of getting rich by playing the lottery.
So what is writing about? It is about that endless quest to thread a needle in the dark… on the first try. It is about trying to compose that perfect sentence of that perfect paragraph of that perfect chapter of that perfect book. It is about expressing your thoughts with such extraordinary eloquence that, no matter the reader’s attitude, you impress them and leave them to ponder. I did it once. Oddly enough, it was neither a happy or satisfying moment. It simply was.
Writing is a form of art, no different from music or painting. I know quite a few talented musicians, professionals at the top of their trade. Some are actual headliners. The one thing they all have in common is day jobs. The lucky ones teach their trade, while the others work mundane jobs, all so they can perform in some bar or small venue on Friday and Saturday night. I have published two books, both of which are an intrinsic part of my family history and very much labors of love. Getting rich was never part of the equation. To me, writing this blog, one of more than 150 million blogs globally, is the same as picking at the guitar alone at night or sitting at an easel painting the mountains in the distance. I simply love words, language and writing. When someone else occasionally appreciates it, for good or ill, is just icing on the cake.