What’s the difference between me (and other professional writers) and a
professional athlete? You know, like those talented young folk now
showing us their skills and brilliance at the Commonwealth Games?
Let me tell you.
I had to have a job unconnected with being a writer, which enabled me
to earn a living. In my spare time I laboured alone to hone my craft. I
sacrificed time and money I could ill afford, sending manuscripts off by
snail mail (back in the day), buying self-help
books, attending courses, etc, etc. Eventually I made it, and started
to get paid. A bit. I still had to fork out money to help me —
attending conventions, for example, and I still had to work.
10+ years, I actually made enough to earn a living (although I doubt it
was enough to support a whole growing family–but by then my family was
Now let’s look at athletes. They also had a talent and a
passion, probably noticed while they were still at school. They came to
the attention of sporting bodies or trainers. Like me, they worked hard.
Unlike me, they had so much help. They had trainers. They had
encouragement or paid professionals devoted helping them, along with
tech experts, videos and science labs… Most would have had financial
help, perhaps in kind, or even in cash. They were sent off to compete at
meets, in and out of Asutralia, mostly not at their own expense.
And now we hail them as heroes, mention them on TV, applaud their
achievements, offer them endorsements, free trips and adulation. Good
What I wonder is why do they deserve it, and we writers
don’t? Why is there so little money for us, especially while we are
still struggling? Why do we give so much adulation to athletes and not
to writers — to physical achievements, not intellectual ones?
do it all over again, mind you, and I don’t regret a minute of time
spent on my writing career, and I’m very thankful for the financial help
I have had (from the Public Lending Rights for example) –but I do
wonder sometimes about the imbalance …