CULTURE

Is writing full-time possible?

Would Greek writers improve if they earned a living from their books? Nikolaidou speaks of her experience: «I teach Greek language and literature at a school. When I wrote ‘O fovos tha erthei kai tha eisai monos’ (Fear Will Come and You’ll Be Alone), I used to wake up at 5 a.m. to get everything done. I consider my columns in Ta Nea newspaper to be part of my job as as a writer. I feel I am a professional.» Tatsopoulos believes in «writers who live from their work. Then the reciprocal writer-publisher relationship is balanced to some degree. During hard times, Thanassis Kastaniotis supported me with work but publishing houses are commercial enterprises, they’re not our families.» And Divani says: «I’m a historian at the university. I’ve fallen for the idea of resigning and earning my living solely from my books, but I really love teaching and I also think it does a writer good to get out of their own little world. Becoming a professional writer in the narrow sense of the term kills off inspiration, experimentation and craziness.» Theodoros Grigoriadis had a big success in 1990 with «O naftis» (The Sailor), which sold 16,000 copies, and «Horeftis ston elaiona» (The Dancer in the Olive Grove), which sold 14,000 copies, published by Kedros. He recalls that «The Sailor» went into four or five editions in a year, and that he spent all of the 4 million drachmas [11,000 euros] he made then on an educational trip to the USA. «I don’t know if it is worth it in the end to get money for your books. The 20 percent that your publisher keeps in taxes becomes 40 percent when you move to a higher tax scale.» «The term ‘professional writer’ is an oxymoron,» claims Raptopoulos, «because you don’t get a salary. You take risks, you never know how many copies your next book will sell. I must say that I went on with writing because of the positive response I got at the outset. Luckily, it continued to go well. ‘Loula’ sold 16,000 copies and I lived for four or five years on the money I made from it.»