Poor writer or wealthy entrepreneur


A thought last night bounced from one thing to another, and before I knew it I had asked myself: What would I rather be, a poor writer or a wealthy entrepreneur, with the understanding for argument’s sake that I won’t do any creative work as the latter?

It was a tough question.

Ten blocks later (I was on my bicycle) I was satisfied with my initial answer: It’s hard to say, I thought, because exactly how poor will I be, and exactly what will I write?

The implication was that I was still prepared to lead a simple existence for the sake of spending a significant portion of my days writing, but I am not prepared to suffer for the sake of an essay every week or two about the weather in Kaohsiung or something similarly frivolous. The question is also how simple my existence will be. I don’t want to sleep under a tree, even if that means losing some good, inspired pieces in the process. (How much will I produce anyways before a transient poet steals my notebook?) Another thing is that I am not alone. Do I expect my partner to suffer with me? Or will I claim that I am prepared to suffer knowing that it will not be necessary because my partner will take pity on me and share her food with me?

The question, and the thought stemmed from things I need to do over the next few days for one of my sources of income – a freelance service I provide to a few customers. I thought about how I do what is necessary to keep the business going; that is, as long as I do not have to stand on a street corner – so to speak – selling my wares or my service. I also remembered something else I wrote some time ago – about why I should crush any ambitions of starting my own business. Why? I was of the opinion that I didn’t have it in me to dedicate myself 100% to a business. Of course there are other people who are regarded as successful business people or entrepreneurs who are struggling with the same things as me. Why are they successful? Why do they get away with it and I do not? It is not complicated to work out: they employ people or work with people otherwise who do what they cannot or will not do.

It is thus not a case of being unable to attain success as an entrepreneur; I just don’t work with the right people … or rather, I still try to do everything myself.

Another reason why I asked myself the above question is because I have often wondered what I could accomplish if I write full-time rather than trying to keep a half-dozen income sources running. Of course this is an open question. Perhaps all the literary exercise may lead to a few short stories or articles that will actually be read by more than 10 people, and – who knows? – I might even make enough money to buy a new bicycle. Or maybe I will be forced after a year or two to take another look at things I had previously considered beneath me, only now with a pair of hungry eyes.

There is after all nothing like hunger and humiliation to make one forget your bohemian dreams.


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