Monday, July 1, 2013

It's Not About the Money, and This is Why

I love to knit. I learned how when I was a kid and I was so bored in church that the only thing I could do to entertain myself was watch a woman next to me knitting. She offered to give me lessons, and I've been doing it ever since.

For Christmas last year, I made my husband a blanket that is easily my best work. He had made me a fleece BYU blanket when I graduated but couldn't find a fleece MSU pattern he liked for when he graduated, so I made a blanket myself. 

As I painstakingly stitched every MSU signia into the knitting (watching Doctor Who and Downton Abbey the whole time), I thought to myself, "If Andrew ever doubts how much I love him, he can just look at all the work I put into this blanket."

When he unwrapped his gift Christmas morning, everyone in his family ooed and ahhed over it. I swelled with pride. Then they all gave me the same suggestion:

"You should sell these!"

To which I replied emphatically, "NO!"

Considering how much time I put into that blanket, if I charged as much as it was worth, no one could afford it. The fun part was designing something new; if I made the same project over again, it would feel less like an art and more like a craft. Most importantly, I made it because I love my husband, not because I love a customer.

If you take away the artistic expression and the love attached to that blanket, it isn't worth making. Not even for money.

It's the same way with writing novels. Someone once said novelists should never calculate how much money they make per hour because it's too depressing. Sure, we all would like to make money eventually, but most of us work tirelessly on our novels with no surety of a reward.

I used to think I could write for other people if my noveling career didn't pan out. Perhaps I'd be a freelancer, a ghostwriter, or a journalist. But writing for other people would never make me happy. It's not about the career, and it's not about the money. It's about the thrill of artistic expression.

And it's about the love.


  1. 100% true. . .about writing and about most creative endeavors. I have a glass studio in my home (attached to my writing lair) where I fire up my torch and make one-of-a-kind glass beads which I then assemble into jewelry for friends, teachers, friends. I would never sell my glass work because then I would have to answer to someone else in it's creation. I did sell my novel but, as you say, if we you divide what the average author get's paid by the hour for all the writing, editing etc we'd be better off working as greeters at Walmart. We don't do it for the $.

  2. I followed Sophie's link to this. I couldn't agree more, and you've offered some great examples of why you believe the way you do. Well done.

  3. What's with John Hurt as the Doctor?

    1. I know, right? That came as a surprise. I'm thrilled to see where they go with it. I think John Hurt's body is the one he was in when he destroyed the Time Lords and the Daleks. Either that, or the writers got tired of being criticized because Matt Smith is so young, so they took it in the opposite direction and got someone old.

  4. I often see published authors mention that they don't do it for the money. Then I find out that many of them still work the same jobs they did before publishing, some because they loved their jobs and others because they couldn't afford to live on royalties alone. But they still wrote, published and shared their stories with the world.

    Now that I publish as a working author, I see what they mean. And I still publish to share my stories with the world.

  5. I totally agree that money cannot be the sole motivation behind the creative process. When it comes to creating something for someone, you do it out of for that person, love for the process, love for the project.

    Your knitting project is absolutely beautiful. I enlarged it to check out all the detail, cuz you know how fellow fiber freaks can be about that! I'm so impressed and a lil envious.

    Have you made the baby some stuff? I know this is a writing journal, so send me some pix if you have them! grins, debra


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