The Why Bother Question

Dear Author Margo,
There’s no money in it and chances of getting published are pretty slim, but lots of people continue to waste their time writing what they they’re sure is the next great American novel. Why do they do this to themselves?

Dear Ex-Jock Who Now Works in Finance,
Who told you there was no money in book writing? Because there isn’t, but even if there was, which would be really nice, that’s not why writers write. This compulsion goes much deeper.

Writers were not the popular kids in school. They were dorks and somewhere along the way they discovered that dorks could be cool if they were writers. You sort of expect a dork to be a writer and a writer to be a dork—except for Sebastian Junger who while a writer can out jock a jock in any sport with one hand tied behind his back—so a dork might as well become a writer if only to keep from being just another unpopular dork. It’s all about validation and acceptance, even if it only comes from a fellow population of dorks.

But you’re right, undertaking a writing life is pretty lame when you think about how much more fun and money a person can have and make by working as a stock analyst who does bumps up in the company bathroom or chain restaurant manager who sexually harasses his employees. Given the choice, I’d rather hang out with a dork than a dick.

Author Margo

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