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Creative Business and Its Bottom Line

Yesterday, Aidana WillowRaven talked about the price one pays for owning and operating a business while producing a product by hand for that very business. Every freelance writer, illustrator, graphics designer etc. can relate to that difficulty.

For the average beginning writer, the talk of managing your writing career and business doesn’t quite sink in, I don’t think, until those first few acceptances make an impact on the bottom line. The irony is that the bottom line doesn’t necessarily mean anything financial.

Acceptance of a writer’s work is cause for the Happy Dance, re-evaluation of remaining possible submissions and consideration of future projects. With each acceptance, the yearning for more grows stronger. Granted, that’s an ego thing, but true nonetheless. A realistic writer knows that the first few markets to accept his/her work will probably be none-paying markets, so money doesn’t always get factored in at the beginning.

What really gets factored in are the number of hours in the day that can be devoted to actually writing, doing marketing research, readying submission packets, taking care of any accounting duties, etc., plus all of the other mundane chores inherent in one’s daily life.

It’s the time factor, as much as anything else, that determines a writer’s, illustrator’s, or other creative individual’s daily schedule and future possibilities. I understood that on an intellectual level when I began to take my writing seriously. The true impact of the outside world didn’t really make itself felt until nearly a year later when had my first acceptance and had carved out a tiny niche for myself in a different arena of the field (i.e. the blog).

I’d created deadlines for myself with accompanying expectations. I suppose, like many, I felt the need to have some form of obligation in order to produce something written, whether for someone else’s timetable, or merely my own. Writing freeform is all well and good, but a person gets nowhere without fences with gates to show them when they’ve grown beyond a particular writing girth.

Without growth little is produced of any personal value, sometimes leaving the writer with a feeling of “why bother anymore” to influence attitude toward one’s work. In one sense that’s probably one of BLOG’s best accomplishments. The reluctant writer can at least produce every day or so on a blog whether they work on a novel or another writing project or not. The act of personal expression still charges the writing battery.

Aidana spoke of spending up to 85% of her time on the business end of her work rather than drawing/painting. I believe that. She livelihood depends on the work. If she has fewer customers, her bottom line tanks and her family pays the consequence. Anyone who has moved their talent and passion into the prominent income producing slot clearly knows what she’s talking about and the effect that such a move has.

For those of us who still have additional income from elsewhere, we have the option of giving writing prominence or not. We haven’t had to commit everything to the one endeavor yet. I ask myself if I have the guts or the talent for hard work that it would take to become a “working writer” like so many of my friends. I have the drive. I can work hard. I’m told that I have talent. But, do I have the courage? That’s the real question, for me.

Well, that and whether I want to spend so much time doing the business side of the job. Would I be any good at the business side? Do I even know what all it entails to run a successful writing business? Do I need training in that part, too?

You see what I mean? Each small consideration piles on more questions about my own competence. And all I wanted to do was write. So many question to think about, and answers everywhere if I’m willing to search them out.

Have you come to that fork in the road yet? Do you see visions of calculators and tax attorneys down the one branch of your writer’s road? Do you see mountains labeled “Publisher Needs” down the pike?

I’m asking just to know that I’m not really alone with some of my fears and concerns. In my head I know I sit with many others at the oars of a really big boat, but in my heart I still sit alone at a keyboard placing one word after another on an otherwise blank screen.

Let me know what you think. Tell me of your journey. Tomorrow I’ll have another interview. This one will be with Canadian writer Aaron Craig. Please stop by and take a gander and leave your comments.

Until then, a bientot,


Categories: Writing and Poetry
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