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Unregistered User
(9/22/02 8:35:27 am)
Cheeky question but here goes :)
Is there much money to be made out of writing fairy stories for a living? Those of you who do, do you work full time or earn from writing on a part-time basis (either only writing fairy stories part-time or from writing in general part-time).

I just wondered because I think it's nice when people can make a living from what they also enjoy but I wonder, like so many things, whether this can be achieved in reality.

I'll understand if people want to avoid the question

Registered User
(9/22/02 9:35:45 am)
just one opinion
Dear Lizzi:
most of us who are called to art, have all our lives long held 'day jobs' of many kinds, some higher in pay, some lower in pay, and sometimes more than two jobs at a time. (one of my best jobs ever when children were small, was delivering multi-list books on a certain route every week --the size of telephone booksand heavy--I developed good upper body strength. When I worked at a bakery many years ago, even though I don't know how I ever made it there at 3 am to start the baking every night, but I got to bring home fresh bread for my family everyday for free...) now I have different day jobs, for I am a grandmother and now have little griffins and trolls to help, as well as my off-and-on frail health and that of certain family members to watch over... so I would say, that work of both kinds, at least for me, is forever. Before it was these current needs for a steadiness of income, it was caring for my elderly parents, and before that it was children, and it was need to earn money to pay for my own education and training, and that of others. So, forever, there has been the day work, and the work one is called to.

Because we live in a culture where art has often to beg for sustenance in public funds for instance, this is the reality. Find means to have a decent enough, steady income (Absolute necessity for those of us who have chldren) and pull the oars of one's vessel of art at all other times one can. This, as I understand it, is what is meant by dedication to one's art. To keep going under the almost always less than ideal circumstances. There are some other ways; some win awards and commissions; some enter university to teach, all honorable ways to help the maintenance of body and soul survive.

Though some artists feel understandably angry about the difficulty of pursuing their art and ALSO holding body, roof over head and food etc, together, I think this has to be balanced against remembering the extreme and current horrible repression of artists in certain other parts of the world. I think we can if we choose, feel lucky to be so free to pursue ALL.

(Think of the medieval mystical writer of tales of God, San Juan de la Cruz in Spain (imprisoned and his hands purposely broken). Think of contemporaries like Taslima Nasrin who writes true tales (in poetic form) about the fundemntalist men who stone innocent women to death while laughing-- (Taslima has been imprisoned and exiled, and like Salman Rushdie has a fatwa on her head--a contract that any religious man or woman has permission, nay, even duty, to kill her on sight). For me, because we know these egregious assaults occur to millions (not an exaggeration) of artists worldwide, many of us feel, at least on most days, lucky to be free to stumble about and to strive and try and to keep going without being carried off by anyone more than the beloved spirit (occasionally by monkey-demons, but that is another story about art for another time)

Bottom liine: be prepared to work hard twice; at the work of one's calling, and at the work that will hold mundane life together with decency. For those who are called, fortunately, they are mostly up to these tasks, most days. By my sights, the difference between talent and success is only this: footprints showing that one is going forward, continuing, carrying, hauling, bringing...

this is only an opinion, but one that has been lived in...

Jane Yolen
Unregistered User
(9/22/02 9:11:13 pm)
art, compensation, suffering, joy
Ah--a lovely answer from Clarissa.

Mine is shorter, but just as true for me. (All artists speak the truth, but it is a personal truth which we try to claim as Truth, but usually miss by as much as a mile.)

Being an artist is a gift. Some suffer with the gift. Some suffer for the gift. Some suffer in spite of the gift. And some suffer to spite the gift.

And some take the gift in joy and enjoy.

I must (in truth) add that it matters not the suffering or the joy (except to the artist of course.) Good art--even great art--can be made either way.


Registered User
(9/23/02 12:22:52 am)
Re: art, compensation, suffering, joy
I blush to give a purely prosaic answer to the question after such inspired answers from cpe and Jane, but I wanted to note that in the years when I was a book editor in New York, working with novelists all over the country, only a very, very few of them made their living entirely from writing.

For me, book and anthology editing has been the "day job" that allows me to write and paint. Over the years, my goal has been to do less of the former, more of the latter...which slowly, slowly seems to be working. A number of writers were formerly editors -- such as Jane, for instance.

Edited by: Terri at: 9/23/02 12:31:14 am
Registered User
(9/23/02 3:06:24 am)
Keep the love...
Just a brief note on my experiences thus far...

When I applied to be a journalist at a small town newspaper, the head editor told me that if I really wanted to be a *creative* writer, that I should not go into journalism. He told me, "It will kill the love of writing for you."

I ended up in educational publishing, and sad to say, 3 years later, it has killed the love of writing for me. I am currently trying to find a way out of it, to find the joy and love again. I'm not sure about others' experiences with this piece of advice. Any thoughts?

Basically what I'm saying is, make sure that you don't let the love of your art get crushed. Stick with it, keep things separate. Try to incorporate it in your job. (An example, each year we have a fundraising event, so I try to incorporate fairy tales and my writing any way that I can.) I hope I'm not sounding too cynical, I just want to warn that if you really love something, don't let anything keep you down. Rise up on those paper wings and glide where the currents let you.

Forest frosts,


Edited by: Kerrie at: 9/23/02 4:47:36 pm
Registered User
(9/24/02 4:23:53 pm)
an Illustrator's view
I have not your gift for words .. and what beautiful words we have heard so far, but i will say as an Illustrator who has been working in educational books for some years now, that i too, as an artist, sometimes feel disheartened by the often unimaginative subject matter and the continual stress of working to deadlines. In between commercial projects (which can be weeks or even months) i work on my private projects which, for me, are fairy tales. it is this private work that keeps me going. while i get paid quite well for the commercial work, it is the private work that really matters to me, and i incorporate elements from the private work into the other as often as possible. i believe that the commercial (rushed!) work resonates with the other more thoughtful work, and if i only worked to deadlines then the work would soon become lifeless.
hopefully, as i gain more experience i will be able to merge the two .... it is this thought that keeps me going.

Registered User
(9/24/02 4:30:14 pm)
hey, that was quite a mouthful
... sorry about all the repeated words!
(i should have checked it first)
we need an edit button!

Unregistered User
(9/26/02 2:04:11 am)
Thank you
Thank you for all your wonderful and honest answers.

I've not really introduced myself yet so here goes. I have been on these boards a long time ago but am embarking on a creative writing course next week at the local university. My husband and I write books already - we've got about 20 in publication over the next few months, although they are all factual books rather than fiction. We don't write under our own names though and I'm not about to reveal who we write as ;)

My husband has a collection of fictional writings which he would like me to get typed up and then he can start submitting them. They also need a bit of modernising etc as most of them were written 2 decades ago. I also write roleplaying stuff just for personal use because I love bringing characters to life in my own head space.

My degree is BSc so it will make a change to be doing a BA subject with the Creative Writing. This semester it's about getting the creative juices flowing. Next semester we're doing Victorian literature including Goblin Market, one of my favourite poems. At the end of it all I get a certificate and the chance to add the credits onto another degree.

Anyway I've read and thoroughly enjoyed books by some of the authors on this board and so I feel very privileged to be able to participate, albeit on a very basic level. I'm sure I will ask more questions as my course progresses so hopefully no one minds too much : )

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