Saturday, May 29, 2010

If I Were a Rich Man

By Michael

If I won the lottery, would I quit writing?

(a) No, but I would buy a nicer computer and hire servants to bring me iced drinks, massage my feet, and take care of all of my other whims.

(b) No, but I would hire James Patterson to write my books.

(c) No, like all the other guys who win thirty million dollars but say they’ll keep pushing the mop, selling cigarettes to minors, or schlepping in whatever particular ways they schlep, I would promise to keep my fingers on the keyboard.

(d) Hell, yes.

(e) I don’t know.

I would like to say, none of the above. I would like to say that writing for me is something that I just must do, the way that migratory birds are compelled by an internal force to fly south in the winter and squirrels are compelled in the spring to do that ridiculous chase-each-other-around-the-tree thing.

But the real answer for me is (e) I don’t know.

I mean, I like the money that I make from writing. Even if it’s not a lot, it helps my family live better. But I also wrote before my writing gave me an income, and that means my writing isn’t only about the money, and so I have no reason to think that I would stop writing if I were super-rich and no longer needed the cash.

If not for the money and not to satisfy a hardwired need, why do I write?

That’s easy. Sex. Writers have lots and lot of sex.

No, no, we really don’t, or if others do, they haven’t told me how their writing gets them laid. As for the rest of us, some of the times when we probably should be having sex – late at night when everyone else is in bed – we’re tapping the computer keyboard.

No, I write for the same reason that I read: I like the thrill of the story – a different thrill from that of sex or from making a lot of money, though all three are nice.

So, would I stop writing if I won the lottery? Only if the pay off from having a lot of money satisfied parts of me that I don’t think it would satisfy. From the outside (which is to say, from my economically middling circumstances), the question seems kind of silly. It’s like asking, Would I stop having sex if I won the lottery. My answer to that one would be clear. Hell, no Just the opposite: from what I've heard, rich people get to have a lot of sex.


Shane Gericke said...

Most excellent commentary! Especially the part about "I don't know." Cause if we were suddenly blessed with more money than we could drown in, who really knows how we'd feel about it, eh?

Then, there's that rich guys get more sex part. I like that. Like it a lot. So, where's that extra billion I stuck in my sock drawer. Ah, there. Oh, honeeeeeey, look what I founnnnnnnnd . . .

Sophie Littlefield said...

this is such a great topic and i can't believe I missed nearly the whole week because i was out of town! M, you are a funny, funny guy. I personally don't know how to get through a day without either writing or feeling cripplingly wrong and un-self-like.

Michael Wiley said...

Thanks, Shane. I actually think that I read a statistic somewhere sometime that said that the rich really don't have more sex than the rest of us. It goes against common sense, though.

Michael Wiley said...

And thanks, Sophie. Writing levels me too -- though that's not quite your metaphor: yours is bigger and better. I can't say that I feel un-self-like if I don't write, but I feel much more like myself if I do.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

b) was milk through the nose funny. That IS the ultimate writer's cachet, isn't it? Being able to afford to hire James Patterson to write your books. :)

Great post, Michael. And good job bringing in the sex analogy (frankly, I expected it to come from Shane).

And, Shane, the chorus "Swimming in my money like Scrooge McDuck" is now stuff in my head. So, you know, thanks.

Kelli Stanley said...

Fabulous post, Michael! :)

I've always been under the impression that the supremely wealthy *don't* have sex, or at least not good sex. You know, all that money gets in the way, even on a king-size circular bed.

It also helps explain the trophy wife and cabana boy syndrome ... and certainly gives the economically challenged some hope to cling to. ;)


Michael Wiley said...

Ah, Kelli, you're just trying to make us feel better. But I'll take it. Money can't buy happiness, and it can't buy sex. Well, it CAN buy sex, but it can't buy good sex. On the other hand, it can buy an awful lot of bad sex . . . .

Michael Wiley said...

Thanks, Rebecca. It would be nice to turn tables and hire the man who hires so well.

As for the Shane-Michael confusion, all middle-aged men think alike, which is to say that everything has a sexual analogy to us.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Michael, are you sure that's just middle aged men?

Michael Wiley said...

Well, being a 2010s kind of guy, I don't want to speak for more than myself and my brethren, even if I know better.

Gabi said...

Liar. I bet you're getting plenty of ... foot massages.

I expected the sex metaphor from Bill. We should poll the audience.

Michael Wiley said...

All right, Gabi -- I'll admit to a foot massage or two. But they've been middle-income foot massages.