‘First you get the money; then you get the power; then you get the women.’
You might think that that’s a quote from Brian DePalma’s 1983 remake of Scarface. It isn’t, because that line is actually: ‘In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women.’ The thing I said up there is a quote from Pope Benedict XVI.
The worlds of art and literature are awash with misnomery, incorrectitude and disquotationing. So many words of wisdom are spaked by one soul, but forever attributed to another. Usually to Betty White from The Golden Girls. Thanks, internet! Betty White never said the thing about balls being weak and vaginas being tough. It was actually the comedian Hal Sparks. But we never let the facts get in the way of a good story. That’s how we came up with Religion. Yeah, I’m edgy. If this is your first time reading my blog, hold onto your seat. Or at the very least, put the handbrake on. Because it’s about to get rowdy. Oh yes. Vaginal Tearing.
Speaking of good stories, Fifty Shades Of Grey has sold about two million copies now (well, the trilogy has), and shows no signs of stopping. It’s not a one-off for something so new and so shit to spread like herpes among the semi-literate (think Da Vinci Code, but less articulate and with more raping), but it’s definitely the exception. As a writer with no other income, prepare to exist on about £4,000 a year; that’s if you even finish that piece of crap about Future Dystopian Vampire Gameshow Love Triangles that you’ve been slaving away over. The chances are that you won’t, so it’s no biggie. Using EL James or JK Rowling as a guide to what you’ll make as a professional writer, is like… well I can’t think of a good analogy for it. Wait, I think I have something. No.
What I’m saying is, don’t expect to get rich from writing. Expect to touch people’s lives; expect to be artistically fulfilled; expect to feel some satisfaction. No matter how hard you work, you probably won’t sell a million books. It doesn’t matter how good you are, either. Good writers die poor, shit writers live in castles made out of unicorn skin. It’s not fair, but neither is life. You cannot come up with an original idea that makes you rich, because Harry Potter wasn’t an original idea, and FSOG is copyright-raping Twilight fan fiction.
All you can do, and this is important bit, is WRITE THE BOOK YOU WANT TO WRITE. Write it from the heart, write it for yourself, enjoy every second of writing it. Don’t write it to impress other people, unless it also impresses you. Have that sort of integrity, and it won’t matter to you if it sells four million copies or four. The important thing will be that you stayed true to yourself, and you wrote the best thing that you possibly could. If you write something amazing, there can be no rejection of it. No one can hate what comes from your heart. Your only failure will be that not everyone in the world has got the chance to read it, and you yourself can definitely do something to change that.
Alternatively, go look at the most niche fiction topics you can find, pick the most under-represented genre (something like ‘Bisexual Ghost-Vampire-Human Threesome Erotica), and write a massively shit book that those perverted freaks will buy regardless. Tick tock, sit back, order yourself a Ferrari.