Writing is not the most important thing in the world – Madeleine Reiss

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By Madeleine Reiss

Nobody in their right mind starts to write because they think they are going to make a lot of money. The average income of a mid-list writer stands at £11,000 a year and so most of us have to have a job to supplement our earnings. ♥

Of course we all dream that the time will come when we will be able to waltz out of the office and into a custom-built studio at the end of the garden and spend all of our gloriously unbroken days sitting at the computer dressed in silk pyjamas.

There are many writers who pull off the extraordinary feat of working full-time in addition to writing novels in the evenings and weekends. Most of them also remember to comb their hair and put the bin out. I am in awe of each and every one of them.

I am in the fortunate position of being able to work part-time and even so I have often thought that my life would be easier if I could just give work up and devote myself to writing. No longer would I have to think about what I am going to wear the next day, or make sure my Tupperware box of salad was ready in the fridge. No longer would I have to attend meetings or take phone calls when I am mid-edit. Allowed a completely free rein, the words would flow without interruption and surely, with all the time in the world, I would write better books.

I am still a relatively fledgling writer but I have come to realise that what I have always viewed as a necessity, is actually an advantage. Having a job other than writing means you are prevented from becoming a twisted, muttering soul who sits waiting for the muse with the curtains drawn. It means that you have to slap on some make-up and step out into the AIR. You get to talk to people and hear their stories. You learn new things. You contribute to something real. Most of all, you feel part of the world.

So, I have decided that even if I write a book that makes a lot of money (the chances are slim to none), I will still do another job. I will build a garden studio and purchase some silk pyjamas but a couple of days a week I will venture out and do something that reminds me that although it may feel like it, writing is not the most important thing in the world.


Madeleine Reiss was born in Athens. She worked for some years in an agency for street performers and comedians and then as a journalist and publicist. Her new novel, The Last Kiss, is out now.

@MadeleineReiss

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