How to make money as creative. That is the question.

For me, it all started with a pubic hair that wasn’t mine.

It was curly, blonde and extraordinarily long, and it sat on my bathroom floor, harmless if not for the fact that it had come from the crotch of a complete stranger. Three things occurred to me in no particular order:

1. How does a person let their pubic hair grow that long?
2. Maybe letting strangers into my home was a bad decision.
3. I know way too much about my Airbnb guests.

Writing is a notoriously bad life decision if one has goals of financial stability, sanity, or any other kind of secure grounding.

All creatives make their own compromises. Kafka worked in an asbestos factory to pay the bills. Jack London sailed to Alaska to join a gold rush, where he developed scurvy and lost four teeth. Cheryl Strayed was a New York Times bestseller and on a book tour for Wild when her husband texted to say their rent check had bounced.

That’s the way it goes.

Nothing about art-making is reasonable in the practical sense.

Perhaps the worst part about writing is a book is that you have no idea if you’re pouring all energy and resources into something of value, or if you’re building a large, papery tower of self-indulgent madness. Even if you hit the literary jackpot of advance money, $200,000 divided by the years it usually takes to write and promote a single work is still likely to be a monetary downgrade to flipping burgers full-time.

That’s the way it goes, but some of us feel compelled to do it anyway.

Writing my first book was a lot easier. My ex earned a steady income and he encouraged me to quit my day job and focus all efforts on that story. I did. That gift gave me enormous creative freedom, but the relationship faltered soon after the launch. When love is dying, terrible insults can get tossed around out of hurt and anger, and one of the terrible things was, “You could never have written a book without me.”

I believed him.

From that point on, I forgot how to string written words together to make meaning. Even writing a 100-word email was a crippling battle with imposter syndrome.

This carried on for years.

Unrealised ideas can back up inside of people.

This can so quickly become a chronic psychological ache, a constipation of trapped magic. If you don’t relieve these blocks, there are repercussions. You can tell if a person is clogged up with ideas. Just look at their forehead. It is marked by a distinctive map of distress from being a keeper of unsung songs.

Pablo Picasso said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Nobody enjoys the company of a person who hasn’t washed their stinky soul. Creative energy turns back in on itself and becomes toxic. It hardens into regret and then resentment.

I could feel every day life building up within me. I was starting to get dusty and furrowed, regretful and resentful.

While on the phone one day to my friend Bruce, I was pouring out my frustration at being blocked when he said, “You will write another book and you can write it alone. I know it.” He was so certain.

I was certain too: certain that he was wrong.

As he talked, I gazed at the shelf where my first book sat and tried to see what he was seeing.

There it was: the spine of a second book, as clear as day.

I broke into tears of relief.

On Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, creative writing sits a the top of the pyramid above more essential needs, like food, water, connection, security and safety.

Ironically, welcoming complete strangers in my home brought me all of these necessities. My bills were paid. That meant I could eat, sleep and write. I had company. That meant I was never lonely. Sometimes, in order to profit from renting my whole house out, I stayed with my mother and wrote from my childhood bedroom while Mum made me cups of tea and delicious dinners, but much of the time I lived with my guests.

A peculiar form of temporary companionship formed between me and an ever-changing cast of characters—

There was the young Swiss mathematics professor who taught me that math is like creative writing, but with numbers instead of words. Her work was in creative problem solving too, and we had far more in common than I ever would’ve guessed.

There was the cyclist from Germany, a professor in human-computer interaction, who didn’t seem to care much for human-human interacting – or doing his own dishes.

There was the 20-something Swedish student who got robbed at my front door while letting herself in late at night. A man put her in a choke-hold while he took her phone and money. I called the cops and, as they sat in my home taking a report, they asked the two of us if we’d like to go out for beers. “We can teach you about the Australian culture,” they said. My Swedish guest, still trembling from being choked, said, “What is happening, Torre?” I told her I had no idea and that I was very sorry.

There was the 59-year old art therapist who had been told by a fortuneteller years prior that she would die at age 60. She was sucking the marrow from her last anticipated year and had an uncommon openness about her that led us into deep conversations about life, love, art and dying. (Two years on, she’s still very much alive.)

There was a celebrated Australian author who gave me comforting advice on writing, telling me she’d never paid off her advances, meaning her books were produced at a loss for her publisher. Despite this, they published eleven of her books – presumably because some rare and beautiful artefacts in this capitalist world still transcend the need to be profitable. She died only months later of cancer, two days before her 52nd birthday.

There was the married lesbian couple who moved in with me for eight months, who became my dear friends, who showed me what true love looks like.

There was the 20-year-old optometry student who peed on my couch while sleeping on it, and then denied it, even though I found her wet pyjamas balled up in a corner. There was $1,000 deposited into my bank account to pay for furniture damages, courtesy of Airbnb.

And finally, there was my book: 80,000 words long and ready for submission to my editor.

As it turns out, I can write a book on my own… with the help of 50-odd strangers. And my mum. But that’s close enough for me.

On the day I finished writing the final draft, I took flight. I laid down on the pee couch (well cleaned) and stared up at the ceiling, and there I began floating just above my own body. It felt as though every cell of my being was so light that they’d all become airborne at once. If art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life, I was thoroughly awash.

It made me think of those near-death stories people tell of floating in a warm space of pure bliss. A celestial womb. I stayed in this position for most of a week, floating outside of myself.

Writing is a notoriously bad life decision if one has goals of security, but I guess that, in order to fly, you have to lose touch with the ground.

I’m delighted to announce that my book is out now!

USA

B&N
Amazon
IndieBound
iBooks
Books-A-Million

Canada

Indigo

Worldwide

Amazon
Book Depository

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50 Response Comments

  • Lisa  September 5, 2017 at 8:21 am

    Hi Torre,
    Just placing an order from Sweden. Loved your previous book and your way of writing – can’t wait for the new book to arrive. Best regards, Lisa

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  September 5, 2017 at 8:30 am

      Aw, thank you Lisa! I hope you enjoy it!

      Reply
  • Louise  September 5, 2017 at 9:46 am

    I’ve had “BUY TORRE’S NEW BOOK” saved on my calendar since I first found out… YAY!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  September 5, 2017 at 12:46 pm

      That day has come! Thanks Louise. 🙂

      Reply
  • Nessie  September 5, 2017 at 10:03 am

    Can’t wait to start enjoying both your books! Samples have left me wanting more.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  September 5, 2017 at 12:46 pm

      Glad to hear it, Nessie. I hope you enjoy the reads!

      Reply
  • Noelene  September 5, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    Hi Torre, just received the email saying today is book launch day (Happy BL Day!) and have just placed my order. Cannot wait to read, you make me laugh out loud. Best wishes to you, Noelene

    Reply
  • liz  September 5, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Your posts always make me want to quit my day job and do something far cooler. Congratulations on your new book! I am still in love with the first one, so look forward to adding this to my bookshelf!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  September 8, 2017 at 3:11 am

      Thanks, Liz! There’s a lot to be said for the stability of a day job. Like, how great is it being able to pay for things?

      Reply
      • Liz  September 8, 2017 at 5:11 am

        Ha. That made me laugh out loud. I hear you. Let me qualify-your book made me want to do something bigger than just get on the hamster wheel every morning. Can’t wait to read the new one. Am saving it for a whole weekend I have to myself!

        Reply
  • Caroline Eubanks  September 5, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    SO GLAD you are writing again. A fellow writer friend and I were discussing your new book and I’ve just purchased it. Thank you for these thoughtful posts!

    Reply
  • Anca T.  September 5, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Hi Torre,
    Congratulations on the new book!! I just received it and am so looking forward to sitting down this very afternoon to start it.
    Your last book was a sincere pleasure. I read it twice! As someone who is traveling and living aboard a sailboat for a year (and trying to write about it a little too), I have found your unique blend of honesty and humor so inspirational. Thank you!
    All the best on number 2!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  September 8, 2017 at 3:16 am

      Twice! What a compliment. I just had a look at your blog. A circle of the Atlantic sounds FABULOUS. My sailing days are done but I still love a good vicarious adventure. Thanks so much for buying the new book, Anca. Stay safe out there with all that hurricane madness!

      Reply
  • Laura Laing  September 5, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Congratulations! I am a mathy-turned-writer, and I couldn’t agree more about mathematics’ connection to creative writing. We all tell stories.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  September 8, 2017 at 3:16 am

      Thanks, Laura! Yes, I made the mistake of assuming that mathematics was the polar opposite of art. It’s just not true!

      Reply
  • Misha  September 5, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Torre, love your writing, just about to order your book and very excited to jump into your latest adventure!

    Reply
  • Jessica  September 5, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    I love this post. Big congrats on your book! Such a wonder to create. Can’t wait to read it! 🙂

    Reply
  • Leah Johnson  September 5, 2017 at 10:27 pm

    Hi Torre,

    I’m not sure if you’re allowed to say, but do you get more of the profit if we order your book from any specific site as compared to others?

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  September 8, 2017 at 3:17 am

      It’s kind of you to ask but I actually don’t know the answer to that. In general I think publishers try to steer sales towards indie bookstores, to keep them alive. Thanks for asking!

      Reply
  • Margaret Pinard  September 5, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Never heard of your work before someone posted this page on FB–love your writing! Putting you on my wish list! Thanks:/ needed this. Not how does one do an Airbnb in a 1bdrm condo?? ????

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  September 8, 2017 at 3:18 am

      Thank you! The house has two bedrooms. It’s a terrace. 🙂

      Reply
  • denise  September 6, 2017 at 12:01 am

    Purchased!
    Can’t wait to read it.

    Reply
  • Teresa Rhyne  September 6, 2017 at 12:19 am

    Congrats on the book launch! I just finished (and thoroughly enjoyed) your first one and the new one should be on my doorstep when I get home. And most importantly–congratulations on finding a way to live the creative life.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  September 8, 2017 at 3:18 am

      I appreciate it! I’m no longer Airbnb-ing – my boyfriend, who now lives with me, isn’t too keen on having pee on our couch. 😉

      Reply
  • Lynn  September 6, 2017 at 12:25 am

    Loved your first book (I read it, bought it for a friend, and read it again, and I RARELY read a book more than once!) Congrats on your new release – can’t wait to read it!!

    Reply
  • Karen Jane Bananapants  September 6, 2017 at 1:11 am

    Who’d have thought you could make a living from making pubic hair jokes? So proud of you and your chutzpah. Big love to you on book day. We’ll have to have some prosecco and wild strawberries to celebrate xxx

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  September 8, 2017 at 3:20 am

      True story: My ex-literary agent Elizabeth Evans once said to me, “Can you stop talking about pubic hair now, Torre?” THAT is how much I write about pubic hair. Too much, some would say. Thank you for the love and YES to the Prosecco and wild strawberries!

      Reply
  • Amy  September 6, 2017 at 1:44 am

    Loved your first book. Going to buy your new one tomorrow at my local bookstore with my birthday money!
    Congrats!

    Reply
  • Antonia Murphy  September 6, 2017 at 1:46 am

    I’d forgotten how beautifully you write! A breath of cool, clean air. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  September 8, 2017 at 3:20 am

      You’re too kind. Means a lot to me coming from you. xxoo

      Reply
  • Martina  September 6, 2017 at 6:45 am

    Oh Torre!! I loved so deeply your first book,but also your blog and your so honest way of writing.
    You are an inspiration to me, another fearful gal who tries to enjoy life one fear at the time;)
    From Italy,can’t wait to get the new one;)

    Reply
  • Sara Lieberman  September 6, 2017 at 7:39 am

    YES TO EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS POST. Thank you for sharing it. Buying your book now! Best of luck with it.

    Reply
  • Theresa  September 7, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    Just started reading it tonight, and I’m already halfway through. So good! I’m a writer, too, and definitely agree that writing is at the tip-top of life’s needs.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  September 8, 2017 at 3:21 am

      So glad to hear it! Thanks so much, Theresa. All the very best with your writing.

      Reply
  • Jessica  September 8, 2017 at 1:35 am

    I stumbled across your writing today (thanks, internet rabbit hole!) and wow. Just…wow. Your writing is amazingly beautiful and I cannot wait to read both your books. What a delight; thank you for sharing your words, thoughts, and soul with us!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  September 8, 2017 at 3:22 am

      Good ol’ rabbit holes. Thank you so much for your comment, Jessica. I’m so flattered! When someone appreciates my writing, it makes me feel a bit less awkward about telling the internet about my pee couch.

      Reply
  • Ileana  September 11, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    i read your first book a while back and have read it several more times. I just finished the The Worrier’s Guide…LOVED IT!!!! Keep on writing! (please!)

    Reply
  • Bev  September 16, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    Hey Torre,
    I bought the Kindle edition on Janice McLeod’s recommendation and I’m just up to the start of India 🙂
    Great stuff babe – you are right up there with Janice and Elizabeth Gilbert as my shining lights.
    Thank you xx

    Reply
  • Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate  September 21, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    So many congratulations to you, Torre! I cannot wait to read it after loving your first, and I’m proud of all the obstacles you’ve overcome. I do hope your next book is about the cast of characters you’ve hosted (unless they’re all in this one?). Off to purchase on my Kindle now!

    Reply
  • Anna Spargo-Ryan  October 12, 2017 at 10:39 am

    This is glorious, Torre! Your illustrations are wonderful and I love that you’re feeling good about writing AND I love the idea of all those characters coming into your space and throwing stories at you. Excited to read your new book 🙂

    Reply

© Torre DeRoche 2017. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce any material from this blog without written permission.

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