Almost any writer I know thinks about money, how much it costs to establish a writing practice, how little most writers earn from their art, how commercial the world is. Best Sellers are just that, a list, not of the best books, but of the books that sell the most copies. And as the cliche says, there’s no accounting for taste. Accounting is not something writers understand. Do I need to save every postage receipt for the taxman just in case I sell a story or a book? It’s enough to make me want to put my head down on the desk and cry. Well, that won’t help for very long, will it? And it’s not a chronic state of mind for me.
Mostly, I want readers because I want to connect with other people. I’ve been reading Lewis Hyde’s The Gift. This is the 25th anniversary edition of the book. I had read it years ago, so I wanted to see what it feels like now to consider my writing as a gift to others. It feels good. I have the word GIFTS on a sticky note on my desk. This one word reminder gets me out of the black pool of regret that I’m not a best-selling author. Of course, the poetry gurus never promised me profits. Nor did they warn me that I would be tempted to spend vast amounts of money on things like book design, distribution, workshops and such. If I just take a deep breath and believe that writing is a gift that allows me to spend my time challenged, delighted, mystified, well, then it’s all worth it. I can for long hours at a time ignore the consumerist culture that says my only value is in my wallet.