Friday, 14 August 2015

How do you make a living as a writer?

I'm really enjoying this series of Leicester writers. There are so many more that I could include but I've restricted it to just one month's-worth. Here is my next visitor, a friend who also shares my passion for therapeutic writing. Today she is talking about the commercial side of the profession, so please give a warm welcome to Maxine Linnell:

Last week I was lying on a couch while a young physiotherapist pressed on a tender part of my back.
‘You’re a writer!’ she said. ‘That’s wonderful. I’ve just finished my first novel, would you like to read it?’
I don’t know what I muttered into the facehole. I think self-preservation came into it. That particular spot is very sensitive.

A recent survey showed that more than 60% of the population wanted to be a writer. Another survey showed that only a few writers earn above the minimum wage. Nicky Morgan MP recently warned children not to go for a career in the arts, as they’d regret it. Facebook is a great source of half-remembered facts.

Writing, or perhaps writing-related work, is now my main source of income, after a lifetime of being a psychotherapist. If you’re after money, I’d endorse Nicky Morgan’s warning. But I need to be a writer, live in the writing world, talk writing, think writing, indulge my huge love of everything writing-related. So I feel very fortunate to have six published books, and as a result to work with writers as friends, and as an editor, mentor, ‘critiquer’ and teacher - even though it’s an unreliable, low-paid, hand-to-mouth income. I’m grateful to all the people who helped me get here, and help me do it. I’m also grateful to the people who choose to work with me, and love finding the gems in their writing.

‘Is it just luck?’ the physio asked me, shifting to another tender spot.
No, it’s very hard work. It’s hard work writing and editing your work till you think it’s going to die but instead it emerges crystal clear. It’s hard work selling it, hard work pushing your skills to their limits and using them, hard work giving time, energy and encouragement to others. And I find it difficult to make time for my own writing in the middle of all this. I don’t think I’m alone in that? And I love libraries so much, I’m putting a lot of unpaid time into keeping Rothley’s little library alive. And most of what I’m doing towards that is - writing.
 
Maxine Linnell

Maxine’s books are published by Five Leaves, A&C Black and Real Reads. 
Currently she has poems in The Book of Love and Loss, and the Soundswrite anthology to be published in October. 
From September she’s teaching in Leicester with Writing East Midlands and the WEA.
www.rothleycommunitylibrary.co.uk


Debbie White will be my next Leicester Writer Visitor.

12 comments:

  1. very nice to meet Maxine and glad she's able to be a full time writer. It is tough work. I don't think folks realize it until they face the blank page or screen. I wish her good luck and happy writing!!!

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Joanne. I wouldn't say I'm full time as a writer, but I agree, it's tough work, full of disappointments. I wouldn't give it up for anything, especially the great people I meet/

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  2. Does it take "luck" to succeed as a writer? Sure, just like every other thing we tackle in life: the harder we work, the "luckier" we get.

    How wonderful to make a living doing something you love. Like I say, I didn't write a book to get rich... and so far, I'm meeting mu expectations beautifully. :) Thanks for introducing us to Maxine, Rosalind.

    Happy weekend!

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    1. Yes, you're right - I was probably a bit quick to say there's no luck involved!

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  3. A great post, Maxine.i think we all have to decide what wew write for in the end. Only the few will make a good living from it. The rest of us either have to make major sacrifices or compromise by doing a day job too. I am lucky too as I teach writing skills for a living! All the very best with yours!

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  4. Thanks, Vallypee. It took me many years doing a day job before I took the risk of writing seriously - no regrets, and it's teaching etc that helps financially, not really the books. Good luck with your writing too!

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  5. Hi Ros - what a great guest post from Maxine - putting it all in perspective .. it is hard work - and I don't do it! But can understand and 'hear' the hard work put in by fellow authors ... I'm meeting a Polish 'girl' (well she's younger than me!) who has written 5 books and wants my comments ... ah well - we'll see what the words of wisdom of this 3rd ager make of her books! It will be interesting ...

    Good luck with your continued success and here's to Ros - as you've done so well with your books, research and school visits .. congratulations to you both - Hilary

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  6. Thanks Hilary - and thanks Ros for all your hard work, and for inviting me to write this time.

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    1. It's a pleasure, Maxine. It is particularly gratifying to know that we're all struggling with the same kinds of issues, even your physio scenario. As you know, I too am having treatment for a bad back and I always cringe at their comments when I say what I do for a living. Why does the statement, "I'm a writer" illicit such responses?

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  7. May backs and legs get better soon! And once someone offered to sell me an idea...

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  8. Maxine, you deserve success, your hard work and enthusiasm for the craft is a credit to you.

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  9. Great post! Hope your back improves although I imagine sitting writing doesn't help.

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