Writing had better be its own reward

aesop quote illustrated by heather parlato This post is #23 in a series of 50 dedicated to the art and life of writing, in support of the 50 for 50 Project to benefit WriteGirl. If you like it, or if you think it could have been improved by a better writing education for its author, please give generously. And pass it on.

Writing pays, but not in the ways most people think it does.

You can be paid well to write commercially, for example, ads, screenplays, gossip, but what you are really being paid for in most of these cases is your ability to provide infrastructure. You give good meetings, good ferreting, good deadline. You excel at a particular type of traveling, of winnowing, of synthesis. You can produce on demand, at a certain speed. You mimic voices well, you correct the off-key sounds of others even better. When I wrote ads, most of my time was spent doing things peripheral to writing itself (and most of what I wrote felt like a poor payout for the time invested, but that's another story for another blog post.)

Writing with no immediately commercial prospects requires just as much non-writing time. Because on top of the reading and walking and thinking and processing (not to mention editing and re-writing) required for all writing in some amounts, non-commercial writing requires that you put some energy into finding the means to support yourself outside of your writing. Also, the payout is different. It's continuous, and (I think) considerable, but in no way does it look like "winning" to most of the go-go world. It will not make you rich. It may not even earn you accolades.

I will be 50 very, very soon. If history is any indication, I will be 60, 75, 90 even sooner. Age is the only thing about me that moves quickly; the rest of me is slow. I am not a hare, and it was exhausting strapping that fluffy-tailed jet pack to my crusty tortoise body and pretending to be one.

I am also not better than a hare. Apples and oranges, although some of those oranges have some pretty juicy swimming pools and vacation homes. Which, I might add, they're generous enough to share with this here apple.

Years after I retired my jet pack but decades before I am (hopefully) done living, I have had to make my peace with my pace. I have had to learn to love the rewards of my path, and to examine my envious longings for those paths, over there.

Whatever path you are on, get down with it. There is reward enough to be had, even if it is not what you first see as such.

xxx c

Image inside the frame by Heather Parlato, from a photograph she took on a recent trip to paradise, aka the Central Coast of California. You can get it in a luxurious, desktop-sized image of inspiration with a $15 contribution to the 50-for-50 project on IndieGoGo, through September 13, 2011.