The president of the New Zealand Society of Authors wants very much to talk about money.
It’s six years since I last bought new knickers. I know this because it’s six years since I earned enough to replace the old ones I’d nursed along for the previous decade. This is the reality for many writers like me (and others who pursue the arts), despite the fact I’ve been writing for over 25 years and have been lucky enough to win several awards. And it doesn’t stop at underwear! My clothes and shoes are swaps or op shop finds, my hair gets trimmed infrequently at Just Cuts in the mall, I rarely eat out, don’t go on holidays, avoid the doctor and the dentist unless it’s urgent, swap homemade gifts for birthdays and Christmas, and dread unexpected bills. In fact, my only discretionary spending relates to writing or news subscriptions and buying books, either for research or trying to keep up with what my peers are writing. Most writing festivals, too, are off the menu, unless they’re close and modestly priced. That said, I’m one of the lucky ones: I own a house, don’t have a student loan, have a partner who has been incredibly supportive (though he also works in film, so his earnings are boom or bust), and have been employed part-time for at least half of those 25 years. Many younger writers I know are doing it twice as hard….