It happened, finally. After more than three decades of thought, the vast majority of which was spent dreaming and wishing and scheming and flailing and failing, I got paid money for my words. The Amazon deposit hit my account. Thirteen United States dollars, and fifteen cents.
No, it isn't much. It's practically nothing, and yet it's everything. Thirteen dollars is everything I've ever wanted. Some people tell me I shouldn't care about whether or not anyone likes my work, buys it, or even reads it. They tell me I should write for myself and everyone else be damned. I say that, with all due disrespect, everyone who has told me that can go sit on a spike. Sit on it and like it.
Because I don't write for the money. I write so I can write. So I don't have to do anything else, because everything else drives me to death. When I write I feel everything, I'm happy and excited and sad, I'm overjoyed, I'm terrified, I'm everything necessary for my books, because I feel my characters. It's a strange place when I write, in my head, where I can be terrified or enraged and enjoy every second of it, because it's the moment of framing a story that I can see so clearly, the joy of trying to put it to words in a way other people can follow and participate in their own telling.
Writing code, and designing games, give me the same sense of satisfaction and glory (sure, that was a bit hyperbolic, but I'm allowed to indulge right now).
They're different from how I feel when I do anything else. Any so-called "productive" activity that I am expected to perform for one reason or another. Because I need to earn money, because I'm worth less if I don't, because I've been given responsibility. It's all part of a silly little mass-mind machine we've created for ourselves and I want no part in it. I can feel it around me when I work a day job, any day job. I can see the wheels turning, the gears grinding, the oil slicking it all to work with such imperfect motion. If a machine could be a zombie, it would be our current society. I want no part of it.
Well today I was paid money for my creativity. It isn't much. It's pathetic, unhelpful, and it won't go very far at all, but I got it for my words. I didn't get it by smiling at people I hate, doing things for people when I'd rather spit in their faces and tell them what I think of their ridiculous little expectations. I got it by telling one of the so very many stories in my head.
Looking at my bank statement, it's painful to see that little deposit sitting there, sandwiched so inconveniently as it is between a deposit from my day job (2,122% of my writing money) and one of several bills that I have to pay every month (725% of my writing money).
It's not a start. It's not even the starting line. That happened about fifteen years ago, and I've been in the thick of it ever since. I just didn't know it until now. Didn't know that this is what I do. Everything else is just a maddening, insulting thing that must be endured. My writing money will equal the money from shit day jobs, eventually. Then it will exceed.
I don't write for validation, or because I want people to like me. I write because I can't tolerate what the rest of you seem perfectly content to tolerate. I'm not built like you. Sometimes it burns, and I hope you enjoy that enough to buy it.