Please take careful note of the title. Writing for fun OR profit. Not fun AND profit. Because I’m not sure you can do both at the same time.
I had been thinking a lot about this recently. I had quite the nonproductive last nine months. A reverse gestational period, if you must, where ideas didn’t germinate and blossomed, but withered and died. Not to beat a dead horse to pulp, but personal issues, work issues, and attempting a major re-write of a completed novel that I thought was ready to go killed the creative spirit in me. I didn’t write for eight months (except the occasional blog post) and couldn’t create any jewelry for nearly that long.
I became grayer over the rewrite (which wasn’t a bad idea, just not a good idea for this particular story) and sunk into a writerly depression. I over analyzed my characters and my work to where I couldn’t see past the task at hand. I began to hate them, and myself. I didn’t know why I was attempting this rewrite. (Add some spice? Reflect current events? Maybe turn my story into something Hollywood would love?) And a funny thing happened: the story that took me only 30 days to write and that had given me great joy while doing so was now becoming a huge boulder hanging from my neck. I groaned every time I opened the file.
In other words, writing was no longer fun. (I hope lightning doesn’t strike me dead. Better find a ground wire.)
I’m not saying life should be a bowl of cherries and a day at the beach (I know, cliches, give me a break) every day, every minute. Life just isn’t like that. It’s freakishly hard and heartbreakingly sad. Life never goes the way you think it will. NEVER. Even when you’re my age. Even if you have money. The problems just get more complex, therefore taking more time and energy.
It’s the same with work. Take my day job (please!). I really don’t mind it. It’s interesting. I get to problem solve. I find that I’m good writing business letters and can keep a fairly mean spreadsheet, formulae and all. I interact with customers, which sometimes is a joy. I keep my husband (kinda-sorta – the jury is still out on that one) in line so that his part of the business doesn’t fall to pieces.
But if you find yourself (as I do) being ground to powder by the mean customers, if your aggravation exponentially increases with every bonehead move your employees make (over and over, and over), if you put in seven days a week and your rewards don’t seem to reflect the effort you put in, if the self-satisfaction isn’t there, it’s difficult to be engaged.
I have since decided I have to stop looking at both my day job and my writing as a profit making venture. I have to see these activities as creations I have control over, and not let the outside world rule what is happening inside my head.
You see, I was much happier writing for the sheer fun of it. When I started writing online about ten years ago, writing was an exercise in joy. The ideas flowed easier. I often wondered how I could blog post off the top of my head while working, and realize that it’s because I was having a great time doing it. Sometimes I go back to those posts and think, “Damn, that was good!”
Perhaps some people can write for fun and profit, but I can’t. And since it’s that way for me, I’d rather write for fun.
P.S. The other day, I received an email from BookBaby (where my eBook sales originate) informing me that they were making a deposit into my checking account. I hadn’t ever withdrawn anything from my BookBaby, ever. Surprise, surprise, it was a tidy little sum! Not that I will become greedy and think to write for profit again. Nope. I’m writing for unexpected gravy.