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THe Best Things In Life Are Free

Just sayin’ (this year’s Forbes list)

James Patterson $90 million
Dan Brown $28 million
Nora Roberts $23 million
Danielle Steel $22 million
Janet Evanovich $20 million
Jeff Kinney $17 million
Veronica Roth $17 million
John Grisham $17 million
Stephen King $17 million
Suzanne Collins $16 million
JK Rowling $14 million
George R.R. Martin $12 million
David Baldacci $11 million
Rick Riordan $10 million
El James $10 million
Gillian Flynn $9 million
John Green $9 million

What is the point of this post? To make you feel bad. No, no. It’s just a vicarious thrill. I love lists in general and lists about richest people or most successful things in particular or worst dressed. Every Monday morning the first thing I look at in the newspaper are the highest grossing movies and at the end of the week the bestseller lists. I know there’s more to life, only what?











I Know You’re Gonna Leave Me But I Refuse To Let You Go

I was invited to participate on a publishing panel last week at NYU. The last time I saw that many eyes glazed over is when I was student there thirty years ago. The panel never really came together, and I think I alienated a fellow panelist right out of the gate. He was lamenting the fact that  writers couldn’t make a living just writing anymore. If five percent of writers make a living writing I would be surprised.  I said that no one invites you to write, no one cares if you do, and that it is against the world’s indifference that you create. If you are lucky enough that the world loves what you write, then perhaps you will be among the few who make their living writing. The rest of us get up at dawn or write all night, or write on vacations, or quit for years and hate ourselves in an even more special way. Is it fair that a thriller writer can make millions and poet basically nothing. Is it fair that a “popular” historian can make millions while a scholar puts twenty years into a book for which he will be paid $5,000? Fair? If my mother raised me on one consistent mantra it was this: who said life was fair? And she said it after I wailed about the great injustices of life: my sister getting a larger portion of mac and cheese, the fact that I had to wear her hand me downs, including a set of faded olive Danskins. Enough said.

Even though  I work every day to get money for writers, I still don’t think they are owed a living. They have to produce work that has popular appeal. And some have to work at it a very long time. The writer who comes out of the womb clutching a bestseller is rare, indeed. As far as I can tell, it’s a long distance race, it takes stamina and creative drive and fierce self-belief.

What say you?