According to a survey last week, the average writer earns less than £600 a year. Yep, not £600 a week, or even £600 a month. £600 a year.
I think most of us probably knew that writing wasn’t the career choice of wannabe millionaires. Only a tiny proportion (2%) earn what is described as ‘a good living’ from writing. But these latest figures debunk the romantic image of the struggling artist once and for all.
So what should a writer spend their hard-earned, blood-sweat-and-tears, labour-of-love cash on? Or, more to the point, what could they spend it on?
Here's a list of ten Really Useful Things that a writer’s average annual income buys you in 2014. You can only have one of them, obviously, not all of them at the same time...
- A Mulberry messenger bag (to keep your notebook and pen in)
- A 32GB iPad Air - with cellular as well as Wifi (for when the coffee shop is the only place you can possibly research your next book)
- A treadmill (because even writers need to keep fit. Actually, writers need fitness plans more than anyone given how little we move and how much we eat).
- A cashmere cardigan - on sale (to keep warm because you won’t be able to afford heating)
- An espresso coffee machine (because where, after all, would any half-decent writer be without caffeine?)
- A last-minute return flight to New York (since even writers need a holiday)
- A magnum of 1993 Dom Perignon (to toast that six-figure book deal)
- A Tiffany cuff bracelet - silver, not gold (for that all-important, star-studded book launch)
- A Montblanc fountain pen (for those thousands of copies you’ll be penning your name to at book signings)
- A three-night spa break at Champneys (for when the stress of writing really takes its toll)
Failing that, of course, you could always pay off one month (yes, just one) of the average UK mortgage or run a car for two months (before you had to start living in it) or feed the average family for six weeks (although probably without many steaks on the menu or much wine in the fridge).
So what does this latest survey tell us about modern life as a writer? Probably, very simply, don’t give up the day job.
Which is rather poor timing, since I just did. Who needs food, anyway, when we’ve got the sustenance of literature to feed us...?