I came across a very interesting post by Sam Harris about the difficulties of getting paid for being an artist, a writer, or a public intellectual.
It caught my attention for two reasons: first because I discovered that there are many websites with pirated PDFs of My Life as a Quant. Second because, in working on my current book, I thought that the writing was going to be the hard part. That part was actually fun most of the time. But since then, encouraged by the marketing people at my publisher who are basically too overwhelmed to do much for me, I’ve found that marketing takes more time and even more nervous energy, and causes (at least for me) much more gut-wrenching than the writing. Basically, you are supposed to run around and shout, very loudly, “Look at me.” I try to do that as much as my inbred reticence will allow. (And I’m getting better at it.)
To be fair, Look At Me is probably what any writer or even scientist wants. This is a quote from a 1950s letter from Norman Mailer to William Styron:
“I didn’t write [The] Naked [and the Dead] because I wanted to say war was horrible, or that history is complex, resistant, and almost inscrutable, or because I wanted to say that the coming battle between the naked fanatics and the dead mass was approaching, but because really what I wanted to say was, “Look at me, Norman Mailer, I’m alive, I’m a genius, I want people to know that; I’m a cripple, I want to hide that,” and so forth.”
So, is it sad that you may have difficulty get paid for shouting “Look At Me”?