Lit blogs and Facebook posts are spreading the story of author Francesca Lia Block's struggle to keep her home. Many Americans are facing similar situations now, and her experience puts a well-known face (in children's literature, anyway) on that dilemma.
But her story also illustrates how fragile a writer's career is. Block is a successful writer. In fact, according to her account, she's had the money to keep up with her mortgage payments. So far. But as she points out in this LA Times article, she's had a bad year in terms of career (an eye problem has made it difficult for her to work at a computer) and the legal complications regarding a loan her late mother had signed for.
One bad year can wreck things for anyone, and writers are no different. They're believed to make big bucks, but even those who do, don't make regular big bucks. There will be wide swings in the amount writers make each year, depending on whether they received an advance for a recent sale or are just waiting to see what royalties come in on books in print. They can supplement this with income from appearances, workshops, and reviewing, but that's not regular, predictable income, either. We're not talking a lot of financial security, and it's easy to see how the present economic mess, particularly as it relates to real estate, can have a chilling impact on a writer's life.
Francesca Lia Block has a new book out, Pink Smog. I suspect that she would much rather be talking about that right now than what's happening with her mortgage.
More on writers' incomes.