What’s the Point of It?

The past couple of weeks have been a royal pain as I’ve been struggling extra hard with the work/writing balance, and the last few weeks the need to earn a crust has proved victorious.  Any writer out there who has faced this dilemma will know what I mean, that it’s hard to get it right, and that writing is one of the least lucrative professions there is, though often one of the most satisfying.  So most of have some kind of other work to pay the bills and afford us some of life’s little luxuries, like eating, or being able to pay the rent.

Of course, this often breeds incredible resentment…I’m three quarters of the way through writing a historical novel (about 90,000 words written, only another 30,000+ to go), and instead of working at the ‘day job’, what I really want to do is get my heroine out of the latest sword-swiping crisis she’s got herself into and move into the sex’n’drugs’n’rock’n’roll elements of the story.  Sadly it’s usually a couple of days before I have the time and opportunity to pick up where I left off, by which time I’ve often dropped the literary stitch, and it takes me ages to get back into the narrative…

I was at Sally Blackmore’s brilliant Paragram event earlier this month in Chertsey, featuring alongside SaraMae Tuson, and we both had an fantastic night, with a lively and appreciative audience, which is always a bonus when you’re a poet.  In the Q & A session after our readings, we were asked the usual ‘Do you earn a lot of money through writing poetry’, which is always greeted with hoots of laughter, and a resounding ‘No!”  It’s not much better for short story writers or novelists; I read somewhere recently that even a successful novelist can only expect to make around £5,000 a year from a novel, so we’re not exactly talking J.K.Rowling-style earnings. The next question is usually, ‘Well, if you’re not earning any money out of it, why do you do it?”.

SaraMae and I both agreed on this one – and I think most other writers/poets will concur – because there’s no real alternative.  I write because I must, because when it’s flowing and I re-read what I’ve written, it brings me only huge satisfaction, and pleasure.  And when I’m at a good gig like Paragram, it’s marvelous to know that there are people who are listening, understanding, and valuing what I’m saying, that my poetry has touched some elementary emotional button inside them that they can relate to.  Then money becomes a total irrelevance, and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

Do let me know if you agree (or disagree) with anything I’ve said.  It really would be good to hear from you. And please, please do send me a poem or short story for the Monthly Muse page.  This month we’ve got a new piece by Dzifa Benson, entitled In the Company of Trees.

Just to remind you, the next Loose Muse event is on May 9th, and will feature fresh and dynamic poet Miriam Nash making her first appearance, plus all the way from Holland, Dutch writer Vrouwkje Tuinman making a welcome return.  Another great night of great words, so do join us…you won’t regret it.

Come share the passion, share the joy,


  1. I enjoyed your readings at Sally’s event – and your book! Thank you for being able to pen poetry in an accessible way that is powerful and memorable!


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