“If [financial success] came early enough and you
loved life as much as you loved your work,
it would take much character to resist the temptations.
Once writing has become your major vice and
greatest pleasure, only death can stop it. Financial security
then is a great help as it keeps you from worrying.
Worry destroys the ability to write.”
In 1920, Aldous Huxley was a struggling, unknown writer. He eked out a living writing reviews for the Athenaeum and the Westminster Gazette. The pittance he earned allowed him to barely support his wife and child. They lived in a spartan coldwater flat in Hampstead, living on canned soup and boiled potatoes. Discouraged, Huxley wrote his father, “There is nothing but a commercial success that can free one from this deadly hustle.”
Two years later, Huxley’s first novel, Crome Yellow, was published and met with critical praise and modest commercial success: 2,500 copies sold the first year. Those may be dismal numbers by today’s standards, but they were solidly respectable sales for the time, and Huxley was delighted. After several years of the “deadly hustle” of writing articles and reviews, the 28-year-old writer had achieved success. He moved his family from the Hampstead flat to a comfortable home in Kensington. He quit his day job at the magazine and became a full-time working writer, devoting his time and energy to his novels, including Eyeless in Gaza and Brave New World.
I know exactly what Huxley meant when he talked about the “deadly hustle.” You probably do, too. But with persistence, planning, and hard work, you can achieve the success that will bring an end to the hustle. You can achieve the dream of becoming a writer on your own terms, writing the books you want to write, commanding huge advances, collecting obscene royalties. In time, you’ll look back and know that the struggles and lean times were worth it.