Writing for Money

Martin Goodman - 2nd August 2005

I have writer friends who take a grand and professional line: "I'm sorry but I've taken a decision. I don't write anything for free any more. I only write for money."

I've been away from this element of my website for a good while now - taking up a huge swathe of teaching assignments so as to buy time. Much of my life I have switched between teaching and writing, using the one to buy time for the other. I enjoyed the camaraderie of teaching too, the connection with people, even the routine of having to get up and dressed and out there by a certain time each morning. This time around it was different. I was buying time for the publishing industry to catch up with me. I had to maintain fulltime writing commitments, some creative writing teaching, while taking on board a fulltime highschool teaching post for a semester as well.

It's worked. I have a new novel Slippery When Wet due from Transita in January, and have sold a biography of the physiologist J.S.Haldane to Simon and Schuster, on proposal. That's a few years fulltime writing work in total - for the equivalent of a few months' teaching income. My mouth maybe twitched in wry amusement when some suggested I was selling out on a previous book, I Was Carlos Castaneda, that I was cynically haulng in money on the back of the Castaneda name. They could not understand what little currency there is in the name for one thing - had I had a free hand in choosing the subject, many more glamorous ones were to hand. And the advance was $22,000, less commission, which didn't cover my expenses on the book (with associated medical fees) let alone be what anyone would expect to live off for more than a year's fulltime work.

So I write for money, sure, and I'm available for hire, but that's hardly the main drive. I write because it's inevitable and I get sick if I don't. I write because stories collect inside of me, waiting to be told. I write because I love crafting with words. I'm writing the book about J.S.Haldane because he is a wondrous figure whose story has never been published, and it's fine to give years of my life to coming to know such a man.

And I guess I'm writing this piece, for free, to communicate - to let you know I am alive and writing still. I'm back fulltime in the 'writing life'. I'll aim for some more frequent bulletins as it all evolves and the money rolls in. Thanks for reading.

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