By Lois Winston
I graduated college (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, if you believe my kids) with a degree in graphic design and illustration and went to work as an art director at a small ad agency. Big title. Tiny paycheck. I was the one and only artist on staff, so I really didn’t direct anyone.
One day I was complaining about the unfairness of something to our office manager, and she said, “Lois, no one ever promised life would be fair.”
That conversation took place so long ago that I don’t even remember the names of all my coworkers, but her words have stuck with me. Over the years I’ve had some hard times while others around me have had great success. I have a relative who I’ve often said could step in caca and have it turn into gold. Some people have that kind of luck. Me? Well, let’s just say I’ve never won more than $7 on a lottery ticket. Get the picture?
I’m constantly reminded of that coworker’s words when I look down the long and winding road of my life as a published author. No one ever promised life would be fair. The outside world (those millions and millions of people who know nothing about publishing) thinks every published author is pulling in the kind of big bucks that James Patterson, Stephen King, and J.K. Rowling make. Friends and relatives expect you to give them free books because after all, you’re a published author and can afford it. (I can hear the laughter coming from all the published authors reading this blog post.)
The hard truth is that most published authors can’t afford to quit their day jobs. And that includes many authors I know who have hit the NY Times bestseller list. Factoring in the hours most of us devote to crafting each novel, then promoting it, we’d make more money per hour asking, “Do you want fries with that?”
So why do we do it?
We write because we can’t not write. (Pardon the double-negative.) Yes, it’s hard work, often filled with disappointment: You can’t sell what you consider your break-out book. Your last royalty check was less than three figures. Your publisher drops you. Your foray into indie publishing has resulted in sales that might sustain your Starbucks habit—if you’re lucky.
And still, we continue to write. Because you we can’t not write.
No one ever said life would be fair--or easy, but the struggle makes us stronger. And better. We keep writing. Keep honing our craft. Maybe someday luck will be on our side, and we’ll reap the rewards of all that hard work. One thing is for certain, though, if we give up, we’ll never succeed.
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USA Today and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.