Today I’m talking to Nimue Brown, author, druid, and quiet activist, about doing the Pagan Business thing for the right reasons.
Buy it here: Druidry and Meditation
On Knowing What to Write About
It depends on what I’m aiming to write – if it’s a blog post, it’s a case of what have I learned recently, or what’s annoying me! Some things come as a response to what’s needed – so I’m looking for radical ideas for my quiet revolution column at Pagan Dawn in an ongoing way, I’m thinking about alternative responses to the seasons for Sage Woman blogs, radical poetry might go to Gods and Radicals, miserable poetry goes to a local event.
When it comes to books its a slower and less coherent process. I tend to have some long term interest in something before I get to the point of wanting to write a book about it. Usually there will be a combination of reading other people’s ideas on a subject, exploring a practice or an idea for myself, and it flows from there. At any given time I’m reading and exploring in a number of areas, some of which go into books, some don’t, and its not usually obvious when I start whether I’ll take it to fiction or non-fiction.
I think the first thing to say is that being a writer does not pay my bills and probably never will – this is true of a good 95% of authors. Most of us have second jobs. Some of us manage to align those second jobs with the writing work, but that’s not always the case. It’s certainly true that being an author in this day and age tends to mean spending more time tying to draw attention to your work than you spend creating the work. I give talks, now and then, I take books to events (easier for people who have cars, I suspect), interviews (!) I write articles and columns and blog posts and lurk around on social media trying to find ways to say ‘you could buy my book’ without boring people to death. I’m not a great self publicist, I’m much happier when I’m talking about other people’s books. I find it easier to be excited about other people’s work.
Buy it here: Pagan Dreaming: The magic of altered consciousness
On a Writing Career in the Pagan Field
My first advice would be to drop the ‘career’ notion. I could probably count on the fingers of one hand the Pagans who earn enough as professional Pagans with writing as part of the mix, to be wholly self supporting. Even best selling Pagan authors tend to have a second job – it’s realistic to think you could be working part time and being professionally Pagan part time. So, don’t do it for the fame and riches! Do it because there is something you feel called to share, because you’re inspired, driven, passionate about something. Then at least there’s the job satisfaction, even if you aren’t getting any money out of it. Most Pagan events can’t afford to pay most speakers more than their travel costs. I know there’s a widely held belief that authors all rake it in JK Rowling style, that people charging for teaching are exploiting the community and all that. The truth is that many of the Pagans you’ve heard of are either paupers, or have a day job. I won’t name drop, but as an author, reviewer and member of various things, I’ve talked to a lot of famous Pagans along the way and I know something of what it costs them to do the work. If you’re looking for a career, this isn’t going to provide.
You can find Nimue at all of the places she mentioned, the links embedded will take you straight there. If you buy something through the links either beneath or about books, you support Nimue and myself at the same time without costing you extra, which is great, right? Considering this is coming to you from a table in my local library because I’ve used up all my internet. If you’re ever considering purchasing a mobile internet package, by the way, don’t. It’s like dial up, but worse.
Diversifying your income will help, but probably the best advice is honestly, do this because you have to, not because you wanna earn some cash. But, if you’re reader this as a reader and not as a writer, know that there’s some simple stuff you can do to really help writers out. Review books, not just where you bought them from, but if you have a web presence, not matter how small, do it there too. Tell your friends and family about the books you love. Buy books where you can, and use the library where you can’t, because, at least in Britain, authors still get paid when you check the book out of a library.
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