One of the blogs that I follow on my WP Reader popped up with a plea for financial support to keep the blog running. The blog’s writer has some days where the output is brilliant. It has a heartfelt rawness that can only come from someone that truly enjoys writing with heart-on-sleeve. There are off days as well, like every person on the planet. So I thought that I’d have a look at the donation scheme, which resides on a crowdfunding site.
I’ve always wanted to create art for a living. I also realized early on that I didn’t have the talent, wild luck or well-to-do parents to allow me to pursue art as a first career right out of university. This was a time before the internet existed, so opportunity was definitely limited. So I shelved the ambitions to be the next Tolkien, Asimov or King and went about getting a useful degree. So here I am 20-odd years later, somewhat financially stable and with time to pick up writing again, but without the illusions that art is an easy thing to make a living at.
Which is why what I found on the site gave me pause. It looked like the blogger was maintaining the site (not a free WP blog) and self-publishing work with financial support via crowdfunding. Repeatedly. Translation: the business model was not self-sustaining. I know blogging can become financially viable as a career. I have friends that are able to support a single person’s lifestyle with the proceeds from their blog. They don’t stop there though, because a blog is like a restaurant. Patronage ebbs and flows. If you’re dependent on steady cash flow from your blog to live, and you don’t have a plan B, it’s like tightrope walking without a safety net.
What I’m saying is nothing new. There have been starving artists for generations. Many of them hold down other “normal” jobs in order to fund the chase for their dream. Some defer the dream until life is stable, and if luck is on their side pick it up again later. Authors have had their first NYT Bestseller in their 40s or older. If people aren’t buying your e-books off the self-pub sites, then your stuff isn’t good enough right now. Take the hint, and come up with a fallback that isn’t art.
There are better choices than living with the need for donations every month.
PS: TDP, I don’t like “free writes” since that’s not really a prompt. We don’t need an excuse to write about anything we want to. The time rule sucks because it’s bad form to leave a sentence half-completed.
PPS: If there’s anyone that can write for ten minutes straight on a tablet or smartphone without an external keyboard, please tell me how to retain your sanity with the combination of typos and autocorrect. The only exception I would make is if you’re on a classic Blackberry with a physical keyboard. I’ve written some epic work emails and blog posts on Blackberries.