I mentioned last week that I had received my first royalty payments from Amazon, but what I neglected to mention was that those few bucks were not actually the first money I ever made from writing. It was the first money I had made in about 20 years, though, and the first that wasn't - for lack of a better word - shady.
You see, in high school I wrote for a "literary magazine" called the Manifesto. It was a student run project, completely written and produced by our 11th Grade class. I did all the layouts and typesetting not just because I was the fastest typist but because I didn't trust anyone else to do it properly (I was a self-publishing control freak even back then). I was also the defacto treasurer: Since I was in charge of getting the covers printed so I held onto our meager funds to pay for printer ink and photocopies. I think we charged like 50 cents an issue and didn't sell many copies, so it's not like we were talking William Randolph Hearst publishing money here.
|This is the cover of the Christmas edition that started the problem.|
Colour prints cost a fortune back in the day.
Anyway, at the end of the school year there was like $5.25 in coins left in our printing "account" (which was actually a sandwich baggie under my bed). I held onto it through the Summer thinking we would need it in the Fall, but for whatever reason the magazine never got off the ground again. Maybe because I got a girlfriend and had other things on my mind. But I still had that bag of coins, and I held onto it all through the school year. When I was leaving home to go away to University, I found the bag and wracked my brain for all of about ten seconds on what to do with it:
"I did more work on the magazine than anyone else. Screw it, I'm keeping it."
I think I bought a Coke and some chips or something with it. That was the illustrious start to my "professional" writing career: blatant thievery. I regretted it afterward - while I did do a lot of work on the magazine (contributing many stories in addition to the layout, editing, etc), I probably should have shared the money with the other guys. So if any of you are reading this - Morgan, Greg, André, Steve, Chris, probably some others I don't remember - I apologize, and I owe you each like 65 cents. If you give me your addresses I'll send you an email money transfer.
|André earned at least 65 cents for this sweet-ass drawing of our Social Studies teacher.|
I was a surly dick as a teenager and photographic evidence of that fact has been preserved for posterity.
|Did you actually think I was going to show you a yearbook picture of myself? Fuuuuuuck that.|
|For instance, our cover artist was really going through a "hippie" phase at this point.|
How about you? How low have you sunk in the name of art or making a buck? I prefer stories that include both.