Thursday, March 17, 2011

Getting rich quick

It’s not that I’m lazy, but there’s definitely a kind of freedom you can get by having enough money that you never have to work again. Expensive things apart, you can do whatever you like. That appeals to me. I suppose it appeals to most people. Another reason I'd like to get rich quick is that since it’s possible to get rich in less time than it’s possible to do as much work as most people end up doing, it seems like not getting rich quick doesn’t make sense. Working all your life would be foolish if working a bit and then doing whatever you liked was a viable option. It’d be like working a five-day week when you could get away with just three. Now I suppose that in some ways I am a bit foolish, but I’d rather not be, and unless my reasoning’s gone wrong somewhere, that means getting rich quick.

Notice that it's the 'quick' bit that appeals, not the 'rich' bit. I don't want any more money than anyone else wants. I just don't want to do a lot of work for it unless I have to. Most people don't. That's why you need to pay people to work. In fact this isn't quite true in my case: I'd like to be an academic philosopher, at least until all the cuts and admin and politicking depress me enough that it stops seeming worth the trouble. I do like philosophy very much. But assuming that doesn't work out (and for most people it doesn't), I think I'd rather make my money quickly than slowly. I'd want to give a bit away too I suppose, and if I accidentally made more than I want then I hope I'd give away the surplus. That's always been the plan for if I find myself with a lot of money. So the desire to get rich quick isn't driven by greed.

Of course, umpteen sitcom storylines have been written around foolish men (they’re usually men) who lose what little money they have, or if they have no money then what dignity they have, trying to get rich quick. Fun as it can be to imitate fiction from time to time, I don’t think I’d like to waste money and/or dignity on foolish get-rich-quick schemes. So that narrows my options to schemes with little outlay in terms of money or dignity. But there are still some options open.

One idea I’ve had before is to write romantic fiction. In fact, cracking into the romantic fiction market is the closest thing to a get-rich-quick scheme I’ve embarked on. It was about five years ago. My understanding was that the way it works is you start off by writing short stories in magazines marketed at women. These stories pay about £300 a pop, and look like very little work to write once you’ve got it down. So I could divide the gross yearly income I wanted by £300, and write that many stories a year. It wouldn’t be many, because my wants are fairly few. Then after a while on the stories, you get offered work writing the novels, and that’s where the bigger money is. That wouldn’t get me rich exactly, and isn’t terribly quick, but it seemed like money for old rope nonetheless. And if people are buying old rope then the new rope business is a mug’s game.

So I had a look at the websites of some magazines that carry short romantic stories, and saw if any took unsolicited manuscripts, since I wasn't serious enough about it to talk to agents if I didn't have to. Woman’s Weekly did, so I bought a copy of their fiction special and read all the stories to get an idea of what they were like, and then I wrote one just like them. I sent it off, but they didn’t like it. I don’t know why, but if you want to find out, here it is. It seemed like exactly the sort of thing that they went for. I gave up after that. But it only cost me about 60p for the magazine and 30p for a stamp, and my dignity recovered pretty fast.

The other idea I’ve got is to write a bestselling self-help book, but I’ve no reason to think I’d be any good at that. I need some kind of backup plan though in case philosophy doesn’t work out. I read once that most of a mushroom farmer's time is their own, so perhaps I should look into that.

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