Is writing a bit like prospecting for gold?
You know, there’s a lot of similarities between the business of writing books and prospecting for gold. Think about it. There you are in London trying to scrape a living doing something or other and you hear the news they’ve discovered gold in Australia. A place called Ballarat, quite near Melbourne (wherever that is). It’s 1851, life’s hard, cold and grim in England. Why not go off on the Big Adventure? Somewhere new and warm. Sure, it’s a long way but you’ll only be away for a year or so. They say you can pick up nuggets as big as your fist, just lying there for the taking. A few weeks and you’ll come home a millionaire.
But it isn’t like that. You join the other thousands intent on the same purpose, enduring bad food, harsh weather, unsanitary conditions. Sure, a few people make it big and find a large nugget. But most of the people who make it big are the people who supply the miners with everything. Food, safe drinks like lemonade, mining equipment, sex.
For us poor writers the conditions may be a little better, we’re not at risk of a cave-in or typhoid (I’m not, anyway – don’t know about you). But I’ve paid an awful lot of money to attend courses, join writing groups, buy ‘how-to’ books. I’ve sold a few books – panned some gold dust from the river, you might say – but I haven’t found that nugget yet.
I hasten to add I never expected to earn a mint from this (nice to have but not a requirement). I enjoy the courses. I tend to treat writing as a hobby and (generally speaking) it’s fun. I reckon if I wanted to make money out of this, I’d be offering a service to writers.
What do you think?