Poor writer or wealthy entrepreneur


Last night a thought 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? The understanding was for argument’s sake that I won’t do any creative work as an entrepreneur.

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 willing to suffer for the sake of an essay every week or two about the weather in Kaohsiung or something similarly frivolous.

I would also like to know 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 anyway 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 she will take pity on me and share her food with me?

* * *

The thought struck while I was thinking about 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 am willing to do what is necessary to keep the business going as long as I don’t have to stand on a street corner to sell anything.

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 isn’t that complicated to work out: they employ people, or they work with people 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 am just not working with the right people … or rather, I still try to do everything myself.

* * *

I often wonder what I can accomplish if I write full-time rather than trying to keep a half-dozen income sources running. 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 ten people, and – who knows? – I might 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 you forget your bohemian dreams.