On Writing, Money, and Supporting Creators

Some people say that money changes a person; and now that I am asking folks to spend their hard earned coin for my writing, I am certain that the adage is a reality. If nothing else, the idea of money has changed me (or is “changing in me”), but I believe it is for the better. Now that I am asking others to compensate me as a producer, I feel more weight to compensate others as a consumer, even though every nickel I get feels like it’s worth ten times that.

I realized this after borrowing Christopher Moeller’s excellent JLA: A League of One from our local library. Reading it was one of the most harrowing and enjoyable experiences that I have ever had with a graphic novel. The work stunned me in terms of both art and writing; and afterward, I not only wanted to recommend it but felt an obligation to support its creator financially as soon as possible for the experience he had given me (thanks to birthday money, I have been able).Throughout my life, I’ve consumed media, but my relationship to supporting it financially has been selfish. Sure, I have sought to purchase the work of those I know simply to support them as a friend, but when it came to artists who I did not know, I never gave much thought to their financial well-being; frankly, I assumed that if they were published in any medium that they were making a decent middle-class living (silly me). In the past when I would have such pleasurable occasions as the one I above described, I would have made a purchase but for wholly different reasons: I wanted to recapture my experience or variations of it. That was the goal, to buy it for my own gratification. But with this book, I was so pleased that I wanted to make the purchase to show the author my gratitude, to support him directly.

That’s one side of the coin, but let’s flip it. Given that I am making a few bucks here and there on my book, I am recognizing just how fortunate I am for each nickel I get. I recently purchased two tickets to see Man of Steel, and I thought to myself, “How many books did I have to sell to pay for this?” It was a strange moment, but it was also a true moment. Money is not just coming to me in a paycheck because I showed up for an employer and performed a predetermined function–these nickels came directly from people putting their faith and trust in me as a writer, and inasmuch as that’s encouraging, it is a heavier responsibility than I have felt writing previosuly. The longing to create work of excellence is always at the forefront of my mind, but the fact that I am charging people to enjoy it raises the bar that much higher. The bottom line is this: every penny from Stronghold is a gift and a symbol of trust, and my hope is that each reader feels that I have deserved it.

It’s an interesting dichotomy that’s formed: seeking financial remuneration for my writing has imbued me with a desire to financially support those whose work I value, even if I am being more careful about how my money is spent. This feels altogether strange but also appropriate–as if I should have had this mindset my entire life but lost it somewhere on the road. Of course, the reason it has only come to me now is clear: I’m a fellow compatriot in the struggle to create work that communicates and reveals goodness, truth, and beauty, and as such, I am now responding to authors in the way I hope my readers would respond to me–that they would have an experience they felt warranted the money they spent.

Any fellow creative types out there have similar experiences?

Thanks for reading,