by Jude Mason
This may wind up as a bit of a ramble, so be prepared folks.
As with many authors, I've always been a story teller. I began when I was too young to read creating little plays for the neighborhood kids to perform for captive audiences of squirming parents, who I'm sure would have strangled me a time or two. But, even then, as innocent as I may have been, my goal was to please those watching. If they didn't clap and cheer, which was my payment at the time, I was devastated.
Moving on a few years to when I sat in English class sopping up every little word the tall skinny teacher graced us with. Okay, this was more than a few years, we're talking a dozen of them. By the time I got to grade 12 English class, I'd already filled dozens of books with my scribblings. Free verse poetry, pages of angst filled plots. More pages of the blossoming BDSM writer who had no idea that was a genre or even an acceptable thing to write about. That one English teacher fanned the spark when he handed out the years assignment. Write a book. Didn't have to be all one story, but it had to fill one of those scribblers we used in the later grades.
I adored all that year of creative writing and learning. Was I paid? Not monetarily, to be sure. But the approval of that teacher, and the few eager young people who somehow shared my passion for the written word all sitting wide-eyed while small snippets of what I'd written were read out. That, for me, meant more than if he'd handed me a thousand dollars. Later, when he'd graded all of the books we'd written, he kept me back when returning them to their rightful owners. He said, 'All writers are a little crazy. They have to be to create the worlds and characters living in their books.' He gave me my book and said, not to give it up.
Payment? You betcha.
I never submitted anything after that until I got online. I didn't understand how to and I was still very unsure of the genre I wrote in. Nasty stuff, BDSM stuff. Old men, sitting in smoke filled flophouses wrote that stuff, right? Not respectable wives and mothers. The approval I craved, well that wasn't an issue. I thought I would just continue writing for myself and dream about being published. The payment for this part of my 'writing career' was really just the opportunity to spread my wings and write exactly what I wanted to. No censor.
When I got online, it didn't take long before I found a nice writing group and discovered there were people who loved what I wrote. The payment there was simply the audience. I wrote pretty much what I pleased, but when the occasional fan would suggest something, I'd be in heaven and instantly drop everything to write what they'd asked about. A publisher approached me and asked if I'd ever thought about submitting, and the rest, as they say was history.
Royalties were small, but for the first time I really understood what my dream was all about. Submitting, waiting, being accepted, contracts, editing, re-writes, proofing, all that and more. It was a huge learning curve and I didn't even get the full meal deal (I so hope that's not a copyrighted bit) The cover I had on my first couple of books was a generic thing. The actual edits weren't nearly as in depth as I needed. The wait time was horrendous, but only in my imagination. The day the book came out, I was so excited I couldn't eat. Being paid for work I'd have done for nothing was huge. I mean, how many people in this world adore their jobs and would really do them for nothing?
Do I write for money or love? My answer to this is 'YES!' To me, genre is simply different things to play with. I have tackled most genres and sub-genres over the years and they're honestly just different ways to play with characters and tell their stories. Right now, m/m is hot. I love m/m stories, always have, so I've gladly dived in and written a few of them, alone and with my writing partner.
I've heard tell that femdom may be the next biggie. I adore femdom and have written that since I was... never mind, too young to be writing femdom. LOL! The paycheck is lovely. But, if a reader lets me know they liked this or that, the paycheck is just nice, the reader is my payment. He or she is who I've always wanted to please. Having one, or more of them, tell me I did something right, or they want something else, that's a huge part of why I send stories to publishers.
I'd love to hear what you've got to say about this post. Anyone, readers or writers.