And the rest

You have to think about money and I mean that in a practical way. If you're someone who just wants to be a writer and you think a lot about the vast fortunes that authors get, you're not going to write anything and you might as well fill the time with dreaming.

Whereas if you are a writer and you don't think about money at all, you're not going to stay a writer with a roof over your head for long.

I attended a workshop last night by Ken Preston about writing short romance novels – don't get me started on romance, I think it can be the most exciting and fraught of drama – and one very experienced writer there asked if it were crass to ask about the money.

Ken told her, and I know she knew anyway, that of course it isn't, of course you've got to know about the cash. He was particularly good, I thought, at then taking us through the money for particular projects and exactly how to navigate it all and what you get.

He couldn't have been clearer or more use and during the session I wrote the start of a new story which tickles me. Everything's good.

Only, on the way back, I was thinking about rubbish writers are with money – and for the first time, I thought that maybe we should be.

Just a little. Be a little bit rubbish with money.

I'm not saying you should go buy a £12,000 Mac Pro to write two poems a year on. And I'm definitely not saying, definitely never saying, that you should work for free.

Yet if your sole interest is money, pick another job.

I am a full-time freelance writer and I have become good with money because this is my business and I have to be.

But that story I started last night is unlikely to sell. On a strict pennies per word rate, the projects Ken Preston told us about are not financially worth it. Do what he says and you can make it better, you can make it a good extra income, but the effort-to-immediate return isn't there.

You need an income, you can't survive on air, but you also need to want to write. You need to need to write. I think I've said this before to anyone who'll stop long enough to listen, but if your aim in writing is all about the end, all about the publication and the money, you're going to have a dreadful time slogging through the actual typing.

Whereas if you're in this for the writing itself, well, you're still going to have a dreadful time slogging through the typing, but it will be the kind of dreadful that you can't resist, that you like, that is rewarding.

The writing itself has got to be rewarding or you'll go mad. Or, since you're a writer, let's say madder.

I mean all this and I am concerned when I've been in the pub with writers who don't care about the writing. But I think I also sound as if it's impossible to make money in this business so you might as well treat it as an enjoyable hobby.


This isn't a hobby for me. Actually, I have no hobbies, in or out of writing. Everything I've ever been interested in has become part of the writing and if there have been times when it's gone extraordinarily badly, it's going well now.

So if this minute, right this second, I'm trying to hold on to you for longer because I'm a bit daunted by what I've got to go write for the rest of the day, I'm also looking forward to trying.

And I hope that tonight I will be able to just go to bed at a normal time instead of fainting onto the mattress. Writing is everything, and the rest.