People always assume, when I say I am a novelist, that I must be rich. Writers equal money in people's imaginations. When I have to confess to the fact that I, like many, many writers, am not rich, they cannot understand why I even bother doing what I do.
Some writers are rich, millionaires even, think J K Rowling - Dan Brown must be worth a pretty penny too - but what about the majority? Are they poor as church mice and if they are, why do they do it?
Well speaking for me, I do it because I have to. I have all these people living in my head, they have lives, they have experiences to, well, to experience. They need to travel. I tell you they're there hammering like the devil to get out. What am I going to do about them? Can I turn them off? No, they are not a radio, can I block them out? Well I guess I can try.
Now suppose I am on a solitary walk, no distractions, no worries about what to get for dinner because I am not in a supermarket, I can't pretend to do anything but put one foot in front of the other. That's when they get really anxious to get out. They start up telling me what they are doing, where they are going - heavens above they even give themselves names! If I did not go home, sit down at my computer and start to type, these characters would drive me to drink, or even worse. I have to do it. I have no option to quit.
If that sounds grim, well it isn't, it is such fun. I can live life vicariously through their adventures, and I don't even have to leave home to do it. Sure I do it because they keep coming into my head but what came first - the cart or the horse? Who put them there originally? Some unseen source? I don't think so, I started it all off. I had to have said one day. "I am going to write," and low and behold it happened.
Of course that isn't to say there is no such thing as writer's bloc, that there is no desperate search for a plot. I mean, everyone has to have heard the joke about the writer who, having died, was being lowered into his grace. He sighed happily. "Ah, a plot at last!"
We all suffer the slings and arrows of being unable to create but thankfully it passes. Sooner or later the characters come back - the plot might be more difficult, but hey if I can start with a character I can get around that. Somehow.
No, writers on the whole do not write because they want to earn money, they write because they have to...at least that is my story.