Imagine a major publisher calling to say, “We’ve read a sample of your writing and want to sign you up. We’ll purchase a single novel for $500,000 or thirty shorter works on a sliding scale; one cent for the first story and double the amount for each succeeding one.”
Which will you choose?
The easy answer is option one. One story sets you up for the rest of your life. A big payoff that affords the opportunity to sit back, relax and write at your leisure. No pressure, stress or deadlines. Just freedom to write when the mood hits.
You’ve seen the ads, heard the hype, now you’re the one sitting in the lawn chair viewing the breathtaking sunset over the ocean. You’ve said good-bye to your job and become your own boss. Life is great and you’re on top.
It’s a nice fairy tale. They offer you a choice, but in reality you receive option two by default.
Now the task of writing thirty not so short stories begins. You start with enthusiasm as visions of bylines fill your mind. Not just one, but thirty. What will people think when they see that on your resume?
Somewhere in the recesses of your mind though, a thought lingers, tugging at your consciousness… “Is it worth all that effort for one little penny?”
Let’s do some math.
In your eagerness to please, you pour your life into that story. You submit the article and wait eagerly for the praise and recognition you so richly deserve.
“We appreciate your story. It is satisfactory as a first offering, but we expect more from you in the future. Sincerely, Global Publishing Company of New York.”
Satisfactory! Expect More! How can they say that? Your story was tremendous. You crumple the envelope to throw it in the trash, but feel a weight inside. The company has added insult to injury. Hiding in a mangled corner of the envelope is a shiny copper penny; the payoff for your ‘bestselling’ story.
You don’t give up though and soon are submitting your seventh story. By now, the excitement of seeing your name in print has faded and writing is a chore.
“Seven articles and the most I’ve made is sixty-four cents. I must be an idiot. I should give up this foolishness and get a real job. What made me think I can make a living as a writer?”
Many get distressed and discouraged at this point, thinking they have missed the boat. But not you.
Let’s go on to story fourteen. You sit back and reflect on all the effort you have exerted to reach this point. Surely the big pay off is here.
“The quality of your writing is improving with each story. We are glad to see your persistence and dedication. It pleases us to send you this check for $81.92. Keep up the good work. Sincerely, Global Publishing Company of New York.”
You suddenly realize if you’d invested the time spent writing those fourteen stories into an hourly job, you’d be farther ahead. By now friends and acquaintances are making snide comments behind your back. Almost half way to your goal and going nowhere. Should you quit or go on?
Few writers reach this point, as most gave up by now. How sad to work so long and hard, to quit when things are about to explode. You aren’t like the rest. You have a steel thread running through your soul that keeps you writing even when circumstances of life scream at you to stop.
Look forward to story twenty-one. Your check is almost $10,500. It isn’t the $500,000 of choice number one, but think of how much you’ve grown over the course of those twenty-one stories.
How many times did you throw your pencil down, only to pick it up once more? How many blank screens have you conquered, filling them with line after line of text? It’s not so difficult now. You’re amazed at the quality of your work. Life is grand.
But wait, it gets better.
Payday for story thirty is $5,368,709. Very different from where you began. Persistence is easier with a payday like that. It was a long, hard journey, but you’ve arrived. Looking back over the rough terrain traveled, you realize that you never would have made it if not for that first single, shiny, copper penny.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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