Money advice for writers

John Scalzi has some excellent advice for writers who are trying to make money out of said occupation. Go forth, read, take notes.

While I strongly agree with most of his advice, I have issues with two of his points:

3. Marry (or otherwise shack up with) someone sensible with money, who has a real job.

This is something that worked really well for John. I’ve met his wife, Krissy, and a more formidable, fun, amazing person I have yet to meet. And she knows from money. Seriously smart about it. I wish I had married Krissy.

But, really, this is Scalzi confusing his own excellent good luck with general advice for everyone. Not everyone’s going to meet a Krissy. I suspect there’s only one and she ain’t leaving Scalzi anytime soon. Not everyone has any interest in getting married or shacking up. And, call me a romantic, but taking into account someone’s money management skills is not something I was thinking about when I fell in love.

Not to mention the salient advice my mother gave me which was to never depend on some man1 to look after you. Make your own way in the world. Earn your own money.

8. Unless you have a truly compelling reason to be there, get the hell out of New York/LA/San Francisco.

Rubbish! Big city living can be cheaper than being out in the burbs or the bush. Food is usually much cheaper, clothes too. Pretty much everything, really, except accommodation. That’s a very big except, I admit, but the notion that everything is cheaper outside big cities is rubbish. Sure NYC and Sydney have some of the most expensive restaurants and produce in the world but they also have some of the cheapest.

Living in New York or Sydney or Melbourne or any European city also means you don’t have to have a car. Cars are hugely expensive and they’re only going to get more expensive (price of oil ain’t ever going down, people). You live on your big property in Ohio or wherever and you have to have a car. I am a strong advocate of car-less living.

Cities are where a lot of the writing work is. We are still monkeys and face-to-face interaction is often more effective than emails or letters especially when you are starting out. Obviously, contacts aren’t everything: you have to be talented and hard working. There are many writers who have built careers without ever living anywhere near NYC or Sydney or London or wherever. But contacts can lead to work and there are more of them in cities.

There are more people in cities which means you’re more likely to find people like you. Living someplace where you are the only person of colour/writer/science fiction fan/nudist/australian/sculptor can really really suck. Sure you can find those communities online, but a real life community is pretty wonderful too.

And, lastly, cities are fun. They’re bursting with entertainment and great people and awesome food and all sorts of unexpected joys and pleasures. All of which I find incredibly inspiring for my writing. I’m not even sure I’d be a writer without all that wonderful city stimulation.

Ironically, I write this from a rocking chair in the country watching red-bellied woodpeckers feeding. I don’t hate the country; I just don’t want to live here.

  1. or woman depending on your inclinations []