Writers like to bitch a lot, as if the government forced them to write for a living. We don't get laid like guitar players and ironworkers. Nobody understands how hard we work. The pay hasn't improved since about 1982 and it sucked then.
On the upside, Calvin Trillin once said writers have the perfect kind of fame: Just enough to get a table at a popular restaurant, but not enough to get bothered while you eat.
What I like about a writer's fame is that a writer never has any way to know what impact he or she is having, or how far the ripples run.
And so at some point you stop caring, really. You just write—mostly to get things in your head out where you can see them. And to make room in your head for new things.
You try to notice what sorts of stuff seems to make the biggest stir; and you try to make time to find bigger audiences, by publishing in a magazine or writing a book.
But you realize, you really don't care anymore about the numbers.
But you care as much as ever about the readers. Or so you realize one day when you get a comment like I got here last Thursday after my letter to mothers and fathers, on getting out of the road.
Hi David – I'm not a speechwriter, know zip about corporate or political life, and I'm not even in the US. I'm a novelist in Australia. But I just want to tell you how much I love receiving your Writing Boots emails, every single one. Always insightful, grown-up, tender, amusing and sharp. This one is a superb instance of all of the above. Thank you. – Charlotte Wood
And you look up Charlotte Wood and you see she's quite accomplished, indeed. (And cool, too.)
And then on your next run, which happens to be the very next day, you listen to an interview with Charlotte Wood. And to your delight, you find her insightful, grown-up, tender, amusing and sharp.