On money & community
13th October 2015
This doesn’t have much to do with writing. Well, maybe a little bit. Did you know that the average writing income of an Australian author is $12,900? Unless you happen to smash out an international bestseller you don’t earn a whole heap from writing books. Add to that having three young children and the cost of modern childcare and I would probably be better off financially if I stayed home with the kids full time.
But of course writing is part of me. I would only be half a person without it. And I’m not complaining. Not at all. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do what I love – a lot of people don’t – and to earn anything from that is a real privilege.
The funny thing is that lately I’ve noticed that there is a quiet upside to making do with less money. (And, please note, I’m not saying anyone can or should survive with no money – that’s not ‘making do’, it’s poverty, and poverty clearly has little upside.) For example, we recently decided we needed a shed. (I can almost hear you sighing, “A shed? Is she serious? Does she mean a ‘shed shed’ or is this some kind of extended metaphor?”) Yes, I mean an average garden shed. And we could have saved up and paid a company to build one for us, but we decided to try to do it on the cheap. I ordered a shed kit online and then, to our pleasant surprise, two local friends offered to help build it. They came over and brought their tools, and their partners and kids too, and we spent the day talking and shed building and kid minding and cooking scones and eating and you know what? It became about more than a shed. It became about community.
I’ve thought about this a bit lately, about how money is great (and of course necessary – see ‘poverty’ above), but it can also construct barriers between us. Yes, it is probably easier to hire a babysitter, but the babysitting swaps we’ve started doing with friends makes us feel more like part of the village it supposedly takes to raise a child (or three). And yes, supermarkets are convenient, but riding my bike down to the local community garden and picking fresh herbs is pretty damn satisfying too.
So I’m going to ignore the bank balance and keep writing. The concrete slab of my second novel is (slowly) being poured. Now I just need time to build the frame, walls, roof and…voila! Book two! Easy, right?
(Hey, you hung in there, I had to try to use a shed analogy somehow.)