Many of us experience trepidations when we offer something of ourselves to others.
The classic and often humorous question, “Suppose I give a Party and nobody comes?” is all the more poignant for actors, dancers, artists and writers who are always at the mercy of “invited” guests when they exhibit, perform or publish a work of their own creation.
A saying in the performing arts goes, “As long as there are more people in the audience than on stage…” but imagine what you feel when that is not the case.
A writer is always a singularity—in no danger of being in the majority—as long as you have more than one reader.
As one of my colleagues once commented, “If one person reads your book and loves it, you are a best-selling author.”
There is no monetary security in the Arts, probably least of all in the written word. Here are the statistics one author presented to a workshop a few years ago (regarding fiction authors):
- Only 3% of authors/writers are ever published.
- Only 3% of those authors who are published get their name of the cover of the book.
- Only 3% of published authors with their name on the cover of the book make a living from writing.
That works out to .00027% or roughly 8100 authors out of an estimated 30,000,000 writers.
Do not quit your day job until you get that movie deal.
Many more of us in this century can tick off the first two of the statistics largely due to the advent of independent/entrepreneurial publishing. Some of us were among the fortunate .009% who ticked off the first two in traditional/legacy publishing but are still far from being among the 8100 who can make a living from writing alone.
Like most creative people, writers find other ways to bring in the payola, bread, dough, green, bacon. Some of us find employment in a field related to our vocation such as writing copy, journalism, grant-writing, advertising, web content—hoping that such activity won’t kill our creative impulses. Others make our daily bread from sideshows such as teaching, talks, workshops.
And many choose to work in jobs and professions that have nothing to do with writing and everything to do with keeping a roof over our heads and food in our children’s mouths.
Fortunately for all of us, we live in a culture and society that gives us the freedom and tools we need to create and dream and speak our minds.
Imagine if we didn’t.
What kind of party would that be?