East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Writing for money and other sins

Leave a comment

A little rant, if you please…
Two days ago I was hanging out with some writers – better writers than me, by far.
The Club Villa Diodati first meeting was very exciting – lots of ideas, lots of anecdotes, and fun
And sadness, too – because giving an objective look at the genre and its health in our country is somewhat depressing sometimes.
But meeting and comparing horror stories with colleagues is good, is healthy – it helps a lot.
And then I heard this one.
One of the writers on the panel – great all-arounder, the sort that can do kids’ comics, and thrillers, and historical novels, and the lot – told us that she had been described, a few days ago, as…

a writer that writes for money

Like it was the ultimate damnation.
Writing for money, what horrid lack of class, isn’t it?
Ah, such poor taste, you asking for money for your words.
What a scandal there’s actually someone willing to buy your stuff and then re-sell it.
Oh, mind you – the re-selling bit it’s all right: people marking authors as mercenaries are always very kind to publishers.
What they actually resent is the writer making a buck.
Because either it’s art you are doing – and art is too high and lofty to be bought or sold, or you are writing the sort of cheap crap that gets written (shudder) for money.



Which is of course a load of rubbish.
The sort of rubbish people that never tried to pay their bills by writing think sounds clever, and “puts the hacks in their place.”
Which is the reason why I got so royally pissed off when I heard that – that the nice, talented person sitting there in front of me had been attacked for the cheek of trying to pay her bills with her work.

Because writing is work.
Writing is a job – it is an honest job, it is hard work.
Fun? Granted.
But it’s a job.
And so, yes, we do it for money.
And careful – I do not mean that money is the only engine, the only motivation.
But bills do stack up – there’s people out there that want money in exchange for food, energy, shelter.
Money may not be the main motivator – but it is a honest concern, and there is nothing bad with trying to pay our bills by writing.


Stamping a writer with the “writes for money” is the sort of snobbish attitude that goes to prove Jules Renard’s old quote

Writing is an occupation in which you must constantly prove you have talent to people who have none of their own.

Talentless people usually end up writing snubs about good professionals. For free.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.