It is a sad truth. Writers are poor. As a profession, we are asked to prove ourselves by donating our works. We are told that there is no money in writing, and we believe them! We are forced into careers that do not align with our passions just so we can bring home an income to support our families. And, if you’re lucky enough to break through the food stamp cycle, you can finally write as a career and get paid for it. But, this last part is a rarity and reserved for celebrity status.
I had always wanted to be a writer since elementary school. My 3rd grade teacher encouraged me to submit my first poem as an assignment. I begrudgingly did it, but my prose was met with enthusiasm and encouragement from this teacher and many more to follow. Thus, leading me to a passion for words and a desire to put my active imagination to paper.
Shortly afterwards, my mother gifted me with a journal where I quickly learned to put my thoughts and emotions, whether they were truth or not, down on paper. Journal writing could be anything I wanted it to be, and the worlds I created in my head were soon manifested through my pen. It gave me a limitless opportunity to release those thoughts that seem to have gained momentum over the years.
As a child, I was also an avid reader. Teachers would place me in advanced reader classes, whether I wanted them or not; giving me books that I didn’t know I wanted to read. The more I read, the more I noticed that my own imagination was taking me to different places than the books were leading me. It was time, and I needed to create my own stories.
When I expressed my desire to write to my high school teacher, she encouraged the field of periodical writing. I am not one prone to running after stories or spending countless hours gathering facts. I am a fiction writer who makes up shit as I go along while lying with elegance and grace. So, I turned my nose up at a career in boring hum-drum technical/non-fiction writing and dived right into the world of fiction and poetry.
At the time, I didn’t take the idea of writing seriously until after my wedding to my second husband. If I wanted to succeed in the writing world, I needed to do some serious research to figure out what it takes to be a successful PUBLISHED fiction writer. Then, I learned that I had to write periodicals… shit!
Not only did I have to write periodicals, but I had to do it for FREE… double shit. At this point, I began to kick myself in the ass for listening to my ego and not diving head first into the eye-gouging, hair-pulling writing that actually paid. Now, I was forced to make my mark in the world by giving my goods away for FREE!
Twelve years ago, the advancement in technology gave me an opportunity that I had not considered before and it eased my trepidation of writing for periodicals. I could create a blog to build a platform. I learned that publishers are looking for a readership base significant enough to help cover the cost of a published book. If I started with the blog, surely everything else would follow.
So, I spent the last decade focusing on paying my dues by chasing down facts and publishing free articles in local periodicals, on multiple blogs, and in podcast form. I was even a ghost writer for another author; to which the projects were never finished or published. And, all of this was done for… you guessed it. FREE!
I did all this work while cultivating my imagination and producing several dozen ideas for novels, writing a few novels and editing them to near perfection. I have submitted a few of my works and received my rejection letters, but I have yet to break through the publishing industry. I still have more work to do. However, I was tired of not having the public read the fiction that I was creating. I came up with Tall Tale Tuesdays. It was featured on my blog to share my fictional artistry in short story form with the world.
Then, I paused… Why am I writing for FREE?
It has been over a decade, and I have paid my dues. I have built up my following and continue to pay for advertising with my own money that I earn from a job that is meant to support my family. I currently work as an Administrative Professional. My most recent gig is with an economic development agency where we attract companies to increase economic prosperity to the county that I live in. We also retain the companies that already exist by assisting them with their growth and expansion. And, we work with entrepreneurs to help them get their businesses off of the ground and become a success in our county; further encouraging economic prosperity.
In the last few years at my current job, I have learned that anyone can be an entrepreneur. However, to be a successful entrepreneur depends on the amount of work you are willing to put into it and the number of sales that you generate from it. This past spring, as I was writing the final short story for Tall Tale Tuesdays, it occurred to me that writers are entrepreneurs, too. And, the question came up, again. Why am I writing for FREE?
As writers, we are poor, but we don’t have to be. The words we put on paper that are our own are derived from thought and energy to sway another’s mind into our own world of thinking or imagination. How is putting ink to paper not a payable good? Publishers and periodicals prove everyday that ink on paper sells. And, even if the ink never touches the paper, pixels still appear, as if by magic, out of the pure energy and thought process we put into it. We just need to quit giving it away for FREE!
Therefore, I have decided to charge for my works with a subscription-based platform. By subscribing to Mommy Writes Studio e-Magazine, readers will have full access to the quarterly e-Magazine and all of my past writings that I have ever published on this blog. That’s over 260 articles!
I don’t know if this endeavor will work, or even succeed, but I do know that as a writer, and an entrepreneur, I have to give it a try. My hope is that other writers and artists will follow suit and let the world know that we, too, have passions and dreams that are worthy of monetary compensation. And, that those who take pleasure in our works will agree and generously support our artistry in motion; creating an ecosystem worthy of entrepreneurialship so that we can further enhance our economy for an underpaid industry.
STACY N. ELLIOTT, AUTHOR/EDITOR