Writing for Nothing

I've invited a couple of writer friends to guest on this column. Both declined; they're engaged in new projects (as are we all) and have vowed not to take on any writing assignment that doesn't pay.

This gave me pause for thought. The sudden drop in frequency of these columns isn't the result ... that's due to my mother's continuing illness and consequent hospital visiting time. As I come to the end of a third novel, however, with the two previous wonderful ones so far unsold, finances are of course due to take a stranglehold on my throat. I can continue writing for nothing, but I cant expect to live off it. Money has to come from somewhere.

My optimism of course is uncurable. My new novel inspires me as being a masterpiece which someone surely will recognize as such. If they fail to do that with sufficient speed there's always the Van Gogh and Kafka route, genius lamentably unrecognized in their lifetimes but genius nevertheless. Such arrogance is half playful, half realistic - without such self-perception these last few years would have been an insane waste of time.

Also as my mother has flirted with the eternal these past weeks, one develops a new sense of priorities. I presume my life to have some purpose behind it, and know the main fruits of that purpose are my writings. That's more of a vocation that it is commercial. I may end up writing for nothing, but that doesn't mean the writing isn't everything.

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