The Sacrifice and Successes of Being a Writer

Danielle Steel has had the kind of success that every writer dreams of but it came from a simple tenet she has lived by; put the family first.

That's what she's done. Anybody who is earning an income from writing knows how difficult that is. Publishers make Scrooge look like a kind old grandparent when considering the way writers are treated in pay and demeanor. Most everyone in the field---and please don't tell me it's a "profession" --- says it clearly: it's a business with few guidelines.

During my early years, for example, I was paid by the word. By the word! And a few publishers even tried to cheat me by dropping the word total when they edited good sentences because they wanted to pay less. Forget what it meant to the story. Charles Dickens had similar experiences with those who manufacturer books. And that's what publishers are...they are manufacturers of the printed word.

Danielle is a self-proclaimed "workaholic" in a field that can consume you. With 146 best sellers and a whopping 650 million copies sold, she takes her talent to something she has to practiced daily. In the Costco Connection periodical not long ago she told the interviewer "I am a very uncivilized writer...I don't talk to anyone...see anyone or go out." In other words, she decided to let her talent guide and structure her life. Certainly not an "easy" way to make a living.

I was married and had two kids and I worked in my family while at the same time giving up every holiday, evenings and weekends. It was the nature of the career if you wanted to be successful. My production and financial figures are modest compared to Danielle's but I was satisfied I gave it my best.

I wrote one Editor & Publisher best seller called "Typewriter Guerrillas" about investigative reporting and 20 other books over 20 years and 22,000 essays, columns and features for more than 200 magazines and newspaper supplements over 50 years. Would I do it again? I loved the work, not the hours obviously but I was willing to make the tradeoff.

It takes sacrifices to make life and your career worthwhile I think. That is what makes me feel my life of words on paper was not only rewarding...it was fun.

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Copyright - John Behrens - 2017