Can a writer really make a living?



Can a writer really make a living?
By Zan Azlee

When I entered university, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I knew I love writing but I never knew it could be a career. So I graduated with a degree in accounting. But lucky for me, as soon as I graduated, I managed to wrangle a job at a newspaper company and that was how my career in writing started.

Fast forward fourteen years later, I was at the George Town Literary Festival 2014 in Penang on the invitation of the festival’s director Umapakan Ampikaipakan. It was to hype up my latest book (Adventures of a KL-ite in Afghanistan – go get it at a bookstore near you!) but also to be on several panel discussions. One of it was about writing for money.

And judging by the crowd that was there, many were interested. Maybe they wanted to see if they can get rich or they were just interested to see if they can make a living from writing. Aside from myself, Miguel Syjuco from the Philippines and Rozlan Mohd Noor from Malaysia were on the panel. We all have different backgrounds. It was a good mix.

Miguel went the hardcore author route – struggling doing odd jobs right up to pursuing an academic career. And he just kept writing, writing and writing. Then his first novel ‘Ilustrado’ won the prestigious Man Asian Literary Prize in 2008 and he started getting knocks on the door and his writing career kicked off.

Rozlan, on the other hand, started writing a little later in his life. Now in his fifties or sixties (who knows… he’s a man full of enigma!), he has written six books in the past four years. His crime novels have gone on to being shortlisted for awards and becoming bestsellers, the former policeman is just enjoying the heck out of life and writing stories.

And then there’s me. I’ve written three books. None have won awards or come close to giving me royalties to buy a mansion or a couple of Bentleys. Rich I am not but a living I am making. I started at a newspaper, went on a freelancing career which started with copywriting for websites, brochures and ads and then continued to do the journalism writing I love. [Click to read the full article at KopitiamEkonomi.Com]


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