It’s always a dilemma: writing for pleasure or profit?

I’ve dreamt of being a famous author ever since I heard my first story. Of course, I didn’t think of it as being a “famous” person in the sense of fans drooling over me, hogging me for autographs and devouring every word I write. Oh wait, let me re-think that statement. Of course it WAS all about the praise, the ego stroking, the exquisite pleasure of knowing that everyone in the whole wide world thinks you are awesome. So much for modesty. Meh.

But it was also about the ability to impart joy; the knowledge that my words, my emotions and my experiences would make someone out there, somewhere, cry out: “Oh yes! That’s exactly how I feel!”

But then, life happened.

I studied literature, of course. I completed my Masters in English Literature. But during that time, my life went through a lot of changes. I was suddenly bundled with more responsibilities than I thought I could shoulder. And of course I messed (wanted to use the ‘F’ word here but didn’t, to spare your sensibility) up many of them. I had no experience of being a mother-figure so yes, I made a lot of mistakes. I know why I made those mistakes, but that’s another story for another time.

Suddenly, I had no time to write anything except O level English lesson plans. I vented my creativity with cleverly crafted critiques on student work, teacher comments on progress reports and sometimes, by writing the beginnings of stories for students to complete as assignments. Sad, isn’t it?

Then I discovered freelancing. And things changed. I gave up teaching and focused solely on freelance writing work. That gave me more time for my family. That’s how it works to date.

But today, the possibility of becoming a famous author seems even remoter. More often than not, my work-writing takes precedence over my pleasure-writing (if there is such a word). Sometimes, my brain is full of half-formed stories just dying to be told but a deadline looms right before my eyes and I put aside the many voices hankering for an outlet.

The only time when my work was in harmony with pleasure was when I got hired to ghost-write a fictional story. I enjoyed writing the story and I loved being able to make money off it. But I hated the part where I had to ‘sell’ it. It felt like selling a part of my soul and I’m never doing it again.

The best time is when I get paid to write about what I love. Hah! Who wouldn’t? But those times are few and far between.

Do you face the dilemma of writing for pleasure vs profit? How do you deal with it?