I want to introduce you to a debate that has been raging in my life for years. I’ve taken just about every possible view on the subject at some point or another and still I don’t feel completely satisfied. The topic in question: is it okay to write purely for financial gain? If you’d asked me that during my university years I would have said absolutely not. At the time, I firmly believed that writing should be an artistic passion that drives people to create innovative and sometimes risky work regardless of how much money it might make. I would get in a spitting rage at the idea of any author who was writing just for the sake of making a living and I swore I would never be that person.
A few years later and, while I am fortunate to have a full time job, many of my old classmates who held the same views as me are working at coffee shops to make ends meet while they desperately work on their literary masterpieces. Meanwhile they still insist that they would never ‘sell out’ their writing or try to appeal to the mainstream. They see it as below them. This was the point when I began to swing the other way. I would much rather be writing than sitting in an office cubicle and if that meant I had to write manuscripts that I had less passion for then so be it.
Over time, my view has softened and I have ended up somewhere in the middle, although I do still look at writing as a job first and foremost – partly because a big part of my day job is producing copy. I actually listened to a great podcast a while back with Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time-Traveller’s Wife and it seems like she went through a very similar experience to me. I highly recommend a listen.