The Reality Of Being an Author
This morning, I woke up to find that my bank account was maxed out.
Not the best news to find out on a Monday morning, especially when every penny I’ve made in the last several months has gone toward absolute essentials. Bills. Groceries. That’s about it.
This is humiliating for me to admit, honestly. I’m the kind of person who likes to be on top of things. I like my bills to be paid a week in advance. When I go out to dinner or coffee with someone, I like to pay. When I get support letters from friends on the mission field about this need or that one, I like to be able to respond immediately with a check.
But, the reality is that I’m an author.
And right now, I don’t get paid.
For almost anything.
I’ve been a full-time author for about seven years. I’ve written eight books in that time, amounting to more than a million words in drafts, blog posts, and other various projects. Two of my books are published and available on Amazon. One—a biography I was commissioned for—is in the final stages of revision. Four others are in varying stages of revision and editing.
One is, at this very moment, in the hands of an actual real-life publisher, being reviewed for possible publication.
None of these books, as of yet, are ready to translate into anything resembling income.
Seven years is a long time. It’s a long time to work on a project without a great amount of hope or encouragement. It’s a long time to make no money and to support hundreds of hours work with several other jobs.
If I look at the last seven years from the perspective of retirement, bank accounts, and income, I have utterly failed.
Seven years down the drain. Time to pull the plug, because this idea was obviously a dud from the beginning.
Except it hasn’t been.
It hasn’t been, because of the girl who messaged me to say that something I wrote made her feel that a part of herself was beautiful, rather than strange or weird.
Or the seven-year-old who—when reading one of my books through for the second time—declared that it absolutely deserved five stars.
Or the man who commissioned the biography I wrote telling me that it was like reading through his life and that he couldn’t help tearing up when he read it.
There is magic in what I do. In the lives I touch. In the moments when people have paused to read something I’ve written, and immediately felt the need to message me and say that I made them cry. Fortunately for my career, I have never—and will never—look at what I do in terms of cash earned, money saved, or bills paid. Because being an author is more than that.
In fact, in my very humble opinion, being a person is more than that.
As many times as I have faltered in the last seven years, I have never once questioned whether writing was really what I was supposed to be doing. It’s too much a part of me, too much a part of the way I love and think and live, to abandon. I may not be making a livable wage on it right now—in fact, I may never make one—but I’ve come too far and seen too clearly how deeply impacting my words can be to quit.
To me, that’s worth a lot more than getting a check on time every month.
Although the check would be nice.