Mo Money Mo Writing

I don't read much historical fiction, but right now I'm reading The Thousands Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell. It's a good book, written beautifully, and you can tell he's done a ton of research for it (how much do you know about Japan in 1799? About the Dutch trading port there? Do you know what a shogun is?) and he writes so beautifully you're pretty much whisked away into the story, even if you want to barf after reading the jacket's over-the-top copy "A magnificent mix of luminous writing, prodigious research, and heedless imagination, The Thousands the most impressive achievement of its eminent author".

Yes, this a book that screams money, in the sense that Mitchell must have had a ton of money to finance his research and the free time to spend years working on the book without worrying about temp work or buying groceries. Which brings me to the question: how much do finances play out in the creation of the average book?

I'd say a lot, generally. Everybody needs some money, and to get money, you usually need to trade your time (even prostitutes trade their time along with their body, even thieves spend time casing their target, even tenured professors have office hours). Yet, to write a novel, you also need time, as it's generally a pretty ambitious project, involving months and years of time, and chances are you won't be paid for your time until long after that novel is completed, and that's only if you're very lucky, and the book actually sells thousands of copies.

To write a novel, even a bad, non-luminous one, you better have a lot of A) Money or B) Time. A lot of students in grad school today, especially non-scholarship programs like Hamline, are actually PAYING to create the TIME to write the novel they always wanted to write.

Which makes your head hurt, if you think about it too much.


Susan Montag said...

Well, isn't that about the truth.

David Oppegaard said...

Yeah. Don't think about it!

Sgt. Misty Peppers said...

heedless imagination.

Is anybody ever heedFUL nowadays?
It reminds me of that Ichabod Crane and the Heedless Horseman story. directed by Tim Burton. Starring Tim Curry.

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