Let\’s imagine that Etxebarria is, indeed, going to teach creative writing. What she\’ll discover on her first day is that the students in her seminar room have very little interest in how much money they are likely to make from their published work. I teach on just such a course at UEA, and I can report that no one tries to write, starts to write, keeps on writing, because they think it would be a handy way to make a living. I\’ve never yet had a student ask about the finances of publishing – how much they might get for a piece of work, as if it were a piece of velvet or a stash of jewels. They don\’t ask about sales, either. They write – just as published authors write, and will take the most congenial job that allows them to carry on writing – because it is an innate drive, an itch that won\’t go away.
I can imagine that this is true of those who go on creative writing courses.
To extrapolate from those who want to write about upper middle class adultery in Hampstead to all who deploy words routinely is ignorant though.
I know why I write. For money. Sure, this blog thing, it\’s fun, entertains me if no one else, allows me to try out ideas and I certainly started it simply to see whether I could actually write.
Comes, I think, from having played music as a child and a teen. You know, once you\’ve gone through that process of Grade III*, climbing the Roman numerals until you fail at VIII, you know very well that practice is what is needed. You\’ve simply got to do in order to get better at doing.
I thought I could write, certainly hoped that I could, and hammering down several thousand words a day was part of the process of exploring whether that was true.
Oh, and I should add, when I did start I was skint. So as soon as confidence had risen far enough that I thought I really could hack out 800 words that someone might like to pay for off I went looking for someone who would pay for 800 words. Found a few people too.
Running a small business, even if it is the shadowy international scandium oligopoly, doesn\’t pay all that much nor, as everyone who has run a small business knows, does running a small business pay all that regularly. Wiggles in cash flow come out of the income of the person running it.
So eight years later around half of my income comes from writing. I might be unique in that freelancing is a more stable source of income for me than my other job.
And thus I refute Ms. Hughes. I am not a blockhead and thus I write for money. Even if this, the training ground, is done just for the fun of myself and a few hundred readers.
*There is no I or II, or at least was not, for the trumpet