This is a post I wrote a few years back for a writers' blog. It's a good one, especially for fellow creatives, so I'm reviving it here at Donuts and Desires:
I started hearing this song on the radio a couple months back--"Only Happy When It Rains." I kept thinking how much I enjoyed it. The lyrics spoke to me and I liked the sound.
Last Friday, by chance, I caught a concert of indie and alternative rock on PBS. One of the bands performing was called Garbage. That's how I found out who'd been singing that song on the radio: Garbage.
That's how I found out when the song came out: 1995.
I was in high school in 1995. If I could go back, I'd spend my teen years listening to grunge and punk and... I don't know. I still don't know what's cool. When I was a high school student I listened to a classical radio station and Broadway musicals. My best friend in Grade Nine loved Iggy Pop. I should have followed her lead.
Anyway, doesn't matter. I can't go back in time. The point I'm trying to make is that this song is 20 years old, but it's new to me because I didn't listen to cool-kid music back then. Everything we create--as artists, musicians, writers--isn't just new the day it comes out. A song is new forever to new listeners.
A book is always new to new readers.
Tax-wise, I don't know how royalties are reported in other countries, but here in Canada royalties from artistic works or inventions are reported on a T5--a statement of investment income. That's how I like to think of my books: as investments. I don't expect to do the work today and get paid for it consistently at two-week intervals. That work needs to pay off over the course decades. After I die, it'll keep earning money for my heirs (okay, my cats).
Most of my readers don't know I exist yet. They haven't found me. I haven't found them. Some of them haven't even been born. Twenty years from now a reader will find something I wrote tomorrow and it'll be new to them. I'll be new to them.