Thursday, June 10, 2010

Readers, Writers, and Castles: A Labor of Love

*waving* Hi guys! It's just me today. Rain is out of the country for a little over a week and she left me in charge. (I know, I thought it was foolish of her too.)

I co-write this blog with her because I adore reading. I've come to realize that as a reader I've really underestimated the amount of work that goes into creating a novel. Sure, I've always admired the talent that it must take to be able to create characters like Sam and Grace or Ash and Mehgan, but I've never really thought about the process. Until now.

Some of you may be aware that I'm currently writing a book. Some of you may ALSO be aware that I'm a 30ish stay-at-home-mom, so writing a book may seem like a forgone conclusion. They hand out blank notebooks and smencils when you leave the hospital with your second child, after all. Besides, if Stephenie Meyer can do it while her kids are swimming, it can't be that hard, right? I read Twilight and thought "Dude! I'm just like Stephenie Meyer with my amazing ideas, except that I drink and swear!"

Then I started to write, and read blogs about writing, and talk to other authors about writing, and it hit me. Writing is a LOT of work.

It's like cooking Thanksgiving dinner: Turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, homemade gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, salad, sweet potato casserole, and homemade rolls...  just to find out that the turkey is still frozen, the gravy is lumpy, and you need to throw out the mashed potatoes completely and start them from scratch while the turkey cooks for another 3 hours. Oh, and that pumpkin pie that you slaved over? It's lovely and delicious and doesn't fit on the table, so throw it in the trash. 

Is it worth it in the end when you have an amazing dinner? Of course it is! Does your husband really understand why you don't want to even LOOK at the kitchen for the next week? Of course not.

If you take all of this work and end up a Certified Big Deal (like J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer, for example) the payoff is obvious. And, since we're human, we may even question the scope of their success.* But most authors don't hit Certified Big Deal status.  During #YALitChat** last week I found out how much a typical author makes off of that debut novel: $10 - $15 thousand dollars. That's before taxes, expenses, agent fees, and whatever else is thrown in. Which is why, when you talk to most authors or read their blogs, they'll tell you that they don't write for the money. It's a labor of love.

And after thinking about all of this, I've come to the following conclusion:


J.K. Rowling deserves her effing castle.*** In fact, I think that Maggie Stiefvater, Julie Kagawa, Rachel Hawkins, and all the other authors we gush over on here deserve one too.


*Well, if you're heartless and mean, anyway. I'd never make snide jokes about how nice it must be to make so much money off of a book that uses the word "moats" wrong. Because that would be bitchy.
**YALitChat is a weekly twitter chat where authors, agents, and all sorts of other people get together and talk about YA lit. If you're ever bored, throw up a hashtag search. You might see some of your favorite authors discussing how they write.
***Okay, so it's not REALLY a castle. It's just a GIANT HOUSE THAT IS REALLY OLD AND FABULOUS.