I’m probably not the only person who thought it would be nice to write fiction for a living. As a working mother, the benefits were clear; I’d have a lot of flexibility over when and where I could write, my research could be largely internet-based, and I could indulge in an activity that I really (really) enjoy. Additionally, since I started while on maternity leave (such as a freelancer gets), there was less pressure to earn a full wage from day one.
When I started, I thought the biggest hurdle would be publication: would anyone want my stories? It didn’t occur to me that if they did, I still wouldn’t get paid. Over time, I learned and figured that for now, I was happy writing for the sake of it. Sort of. At least until I’d published a novel or two, and could be taken as a ‘serious author’ (whatever that means — the subject of another post perhaps).
It’s not that simple. This week, The Guardian published an article by Liz Bury, ‘Philip Hensher stirs debate among authors after refusing to write for free’ – and it makes for sober reading.
Yes, you can be a Man Booker shortlisted, literary novelist and still be called rude names, by a professor at Cambridge, for refusing to… work for free?
Boo. Just, boo.