Monday, May 24, 2010

Luck of the Draw

"If you won the Lottery, would you quit writing? If not, would the guaranteed income change how and what you write?"

I don't think the question is "would" I quit writing, but rather "could" I quit?

The answer is no. Not even with the help of a Twelve-step program. Writing is an addiction—I don't just want to write, I need to write.

It's how I cope with the world, how I explore new ideas, make sense of the daily insanity that surrounds us all.

Not going to give that up any time soon! Not if I want to stay sane--okay, that's up for debate, maybe I should say "stay as sane as I am now." (Stop laughing, Shane! You too, Kelli!)

Would I write differently if I was financially secure? Never thought of that before, but you know, I think I might. Buy a place with an ocean view, write while staring out at dolphins frolicking in the water….yeah, that'd make a neat change of pace.

Or maybe learn to write while traveling all over the world, staring out at different dolphins frolicking in different oceans….oh, and cabana boys, lots of cabana boys….

But the topics I'd write about? They'd be the same—although with no financial need to earn income, I could maybe take more chances at less mainstream, commercially-viable work, not worry if it sold or not….

Although, honestly, that's pretty much my approach now. I'm a pretty fast writer, and if I have an idea I really want to explore, I'll write the book even if it doesn't seem marketable. I write first for myself, second for my readers, third for the income stream.

How would the work of famous authors depending on their writing for a living be changed if they were financially secure?

Would Charles Dickens be less wordy, learn to slice and dice his drafts into lean, taut narratives?  Would Emily Dickinson be less suicidal—and would a cheerful Emily create poetry that stirred the soul and lives on through the ages?

What do you think?  Would we have lost out on greatness if all writers were financially stable?

Thanks for reading,
CJ

About CJ:
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels and has been called a "master of the genre" (Pittsburgh Magazine). Her award-winning, critically acclaimed Angels of Mercy series (LIFELINES, WARNING SIGNS, and URGENT CARE) is available in stores now with the fourth book, CRITICAL CONDITION due out December, 2010. CJ's newest project is as co-author of the first in a new suspense series with Erin Brockovich. To learn more about CJ and her work, go to http://www.cjlyons.net



13 comments:

Gabi said...

I think Charles Dickens was actually paid by the word. And cabana boys are always a good idea.

Hard Boiled Mysti said...

It would inevitably change what I write about. Like a screenwriter who goes from writing about starving teens and angry parents to rich (and often very dull) people and their trivial problems :) but I have a short memory for pain...

I have faith, CJ, that you would find the human struggle at every economic strata! You can take the writer out of "real life", but you can't always take the real life out of the writer :)

CJ Lyons said...

Gabi,
Exactly--so if he were already rich, would he have only left it as...it was the best of times, it was the worst???

CJ Lyons said...

Thanks, Mysti! You're sweet to say that--I can't help it, I'm a sucker for any David v. Goliath story, love standing up for the little guy and taking down the bullies....

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks for a great post, CJ! I'm an obsessive writer too so I sympathize. I wouldn't/couldn't quit writing, but someone ELSE would manage my web site and do all the marketing stuff I don't like. Plus I'd travel more.

The dolphins are distracting, FYI. :)

CJ Lyons said...

Oh yes, thanks for pointing out how money could be helpful, Becky!

Hmmm....maybe I should go buy a lottery ticket after all....

Graham Brown said...

Good thoughts CJ - plus remember - if you did hit the lottery you could always buy the publisher and force them to give you max co-op.

CJ Lyons said...

Oh yeah, great point, Graham. Powerball, here I come!

Shane Gericke said...

Sane? You? Perish the thought. You wouldn't be Our CJ with sanity :-)

Now I'm not much on cabana boys, but the rest sounds awfully good. I was poor for long enough in my life that being rich would be a welcome change. Wouldn't change how I live, except I'd travel first-class instead of sardine. And the car stereo would be bitchin'. And, I'd have a tech on speed-dial 24/7 to fix all the damn Comcast Internet crashes ... three outages in the past two weeks.

And my books would have more sex cause the publisher couldn't tell me no cause I'd be so rich I could buy it out ...

Kelli Stanley said...

You're one of the sanest people I know, Ceej. I'll leave it for you to determine what that says about the people I know ... ;)

Seriously, wonderful post. Thanks for reminding us that voice is a product of our experiences--good, bad, or challenging.

Of course, I think we can all agree that our voices are "mature" enough at this point to withstand a worry-free income, several PAs, and the luxury of writing wherever the hell we'd like. ;)

xoxo

CJ Lyons said...

Hey there Shane and Kelli! Sounds like we all agree that the one huge benefit to money wouldn't be lifestyle but freedom to write what we want....wouldn't that be a wonderful world?!?

Shane Gericke said...

Damn right it would. Yar!

Terry Stonecrop said...

Provocative post! And I'm not talking about the cabana boy. You explored this in more depth than I ever even thought about. Good, made me think. OK, me, it's money and I realize that's foolish in this biz, in this time.

If I were rich, I'd probably spend my life by my infinity pool in Cabo San Lucas, sipping margaritas, and reading other people's novels.

Sure, we probably would have lost out on greatness. Most of the greats suffered terribly in their lives, so I think that may have driven them to write, that and, the need of little green pieces of paper.