Opening Inward Newsletter
An Occasional Publication Produced by Write From the Heart Seminars
* Exploring New Paths for Creativity & Spiritual Development
By Hal Zina Bennett
Welcome to the Opening Inward Newsletter, a publication for people interested
in creative writing and publishing. If you are new to this newsletter,
introductions are in order. I'm an author and writing coach. I've had 31 books
of my own successfully published and have helped other authors, as well as
publishers, develop their projects.
At the bottom of the last page of this newsletter you'll find my website
address where you can learn more about my own writing work, and even read
excerpts from my current books.
I hope you enjoy and benefit from my efforts. Your suggestions and comments
are always appreciated.
by Hal Zina Bennett
Last month (July 25, '02) there was an article in the San Diego Union Tribune
spelling out the contribution made by the arts in America. Unlike other polemics
arguing the moral, aesthetic and spiritual values of these activities, the
author, Robert Lynch, president of Americans for the Arts (AFA) looked at the
strictly economic contribution of the arts. Here are some of his findings:
- Nonprofit arts groups, including museums, theater companies, performing
arts centers, orchestras, dance companies, arts councils and other, generate
$134 billion in economic activity nationally every year.
- The above groups employ nearly 5 million full-time employees. This is a
larger percentage of the U.S. workforce than is represented by doctors,
lawyers, or accountants.
- The arts generate $89.4 billion in household income in the U.S.
- And how about taxes? The nonprofit arts industry overall generates $24.4
billion to local state and federal government revenues! (Meanwhile,
government spends only $3 billion in support of the arts each year. Not a
bad return for the money!)
These statistics are for the "non-profit arts industry." They do
not take writing and publishing into account, except in the areas of writing for
theater, writing copy for all of the information and promotion of the above,
etc. I couldn't even venture a guess what the publishing industry, to which we
writers are all wed, might represent as an economic force in our country. I
would guess that it would be considerably more than the above.
All of this made me pause and reflect on those old warnings from our parents
that there is no future in a creative career.
I made a quick tally of my own retail book sales over my lifetime. It came
out to $6.5 million. Hmm, a modest number when compared to a bestseller like
Stephen King who sells probably that much in a year. But I am a modest mid-list
author, of which there are at least a quarter of a million in the U.S. Even so,
we are talking about real money here.
Then I started thinking about all the books I've worked on for other
authors-doctoring, rewriting, coaching, and sometimes ghosting. I lost count at
200 published books, not all of which have been bestsellers, of course. But some
of the books I've worked on for other authors or publishers have become New York
Times bestsellers. Just those books alone, at last tally, represented over $120
million in retail sales.
My own example is not exactly representative of writers in the U.S., since I
both write my own books and do freelance work for publishers and other authors.
Even so, think of a one-book mid-list author whose book is moderately
successful. If the book is in hardcover, you are talking about half-a-million in
retail sales. That's a lot of money to be moving around our economy. We writers
have a pretty good cottage industry going here. Maybe it's worth sticking with
this writing stuff!
The bottom line-excuse me if I begin to sound like a bean-counter here-is
that publishing and the arts together represent a major economic force in this
country. A very very major force!
I say, if you are a writer, musician, poet, actor, painter, illustrator,
whatever your choice, and are contemplating committing more of your time and
energy to your creative efforts, take all of the above into account. Many
creative people think of themselves as living outside the mainstream, and
certainly don't think of themselves as big contributors to the economy. But it's
quite to the contrary. Collectively we form a huge cornerstone in the economic
foundation of our country.
There's much more to writing and the arts than dollar value, of course. And
I'm not even looking at that here. Still, in a country where spending power is
too often the measure of our worth, we'd do well to remind ourselves of the
above. Most of us may not be motivated by money, but taking pride in the
economic force that we are a part of can help us stand up to those pesky inner
critics who tell us we should not quit our day jobs or that we should be looking
for real work.
I say that anything we can muster up to put our inner critics in their place
is certainly a worthwhile venture. Meanwhile, you've now got some good
ammunition for addressing the outer critics as well.