Writing & Money

The other day, my Facebook-loving teenager casually mentioned to me that, on average, writers make $149K per year. “You’re doing something wrong, mom.”

These lines are full disclosure that, in fact, I am not earning $149K per year. The children and I are, however, still afloat. While I know all kinds of writers, many of whom are terrific writers as well as decent people, no one I know has ever undertaken the vocation of writing for money. Writers may be many things, but we’re generally not stupid.

When I taught a one day class at Johnson State College a year ago with Dede Cummings, my most useful piece of advice for aspiring writers was two-pronged: write and keep your expenses low. I really wasn’t kidding on either count.

Money is merely practical. Writing is art. Both are necessary – in my life (and my daughters’ lives, at least). So it was with real pleasure that the day I received a royalty check from my novel, I also met a woman I hadn’t seen for a few years. She had read my book (– and loved it; I write this with real pleasure), because another woman gave her the novel and told her to read it. That woman didn’t know me and didn’t know I had any connection to her friend. She is my ideal reader: someone who loved my book and passed it to another reader, as I do with so many books I love.

What a piece of luck was this chance encounter in the co-op’s coffee aisle, on a subzero and sunny day.

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

– E. L. Doctorow

Living Room Windows, Mid-December

By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

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