This afternoon I watched The Waltons.
You remember The Waltons…a family TV series from the 70s set in the 1930s. I tuned in a few minutes into the episode. John Boy Walton, college student and aspiring novelist, is being lectured by an older author. The author asks John Boy what he plans to do for a living.
“Write,” he replies.
After naming all the famous novelists who hardly made a dime in their day, the author ends the conversation by explaining that if John Boy intends to make money and be a writer, he needed to marry into money.
Doesn’t seem that things have changed much. Except that many authors these days are more prolific, which might increase their chances of making a living from writing. But then there’s something authors long ago didn’t need to consider….SOCIAL MEDIA!
Can’t you just imagine Margaret Mitchell or Earnest Hemmingway hanging over a computer, plugging time into Facebook and Twitter? How about the image of Mark Twain or Walt Whitman snapping pics on their phone to post on Instagram?
Personally, I have always pictured authors from those days to have all day to sit at their desk and pen the masterpieces we still enjoy. No social media, no conferences, no book signings. Just leisure writing, breaking all the writing rules, ignoring the trends and genres that we contend with today.
So at least I have no illusions of being a rich author when I grow up.
I do have hopes of being published in the near future. I’m also aware I will be somewhat of a slave to the social media grind. I still relish the thought of being an employed writer….
At the end of The Waltons episode, John Boy is bemoaning the statistic of over 10,000 unemployed writers in the U.S (during the 30s). His little brother tells him that’s impossible, that if you’re a writer, you work for yourself. And if you work for yourself, how can you be unemployed?
Makes perfect sense. I’ll never be unemployed. I’ll just forever be responsible to my talents, gifts and writing dreams.
How about you? Do you have plans to make a living at writing?