Are Authors Rich?

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 6.32.12 PMI end each Cheesie Mack school presentation with a Q&A. And I can count on certain questions always being asked:

“How long does it take to write a book?”
“How did you come up with the idea for Cheesie Mack?”

Those are not surprising. But I also always get questions you might not expect:

 “How old are you?” (I award a Georgie 4 President sticker if the questioner can guess my age within ten years. Their answers have ranged from 16 to 96!)
“Are you rich?” (Often this question is disguised…e.g., “What model car do you drive?”)

georgiesticker-RGBLast week, at a Virginia school, a fourth-grade girl asked the wealth question, and something made me ask back, “What do you mean by ‘rich’?” I thought I was asking her to come up with a number, perhaps a million…or ten million. But she surprised me with a more thoughful and moving response.

“Well,” she said with no hesitation, “there are two kinds of ‘rich.’ Money and happiness. Are you rich in both?”

I stared, dumbstruck for a moment.

“I’ve been to 291 schools across the country where I get to meet wonderful students like you and your friends,” I responded. “As for happiness, I have more than I could spend in ten lifetimes.”

Then I asked her name, asked her to stand, and asked for a hug.

Finally I told her J.K. Rowling and Jeff Kinney are rich with money. Me? Not so much.


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2 Comments on “Are Authors Rich?

  1. When they were growing up, when a “rich” question arose, I would always ask my kids, “Who’s the richest?” …to which they were dutifully trained to respond (after awhile, in that classic sing-song roll-your-eyes tone) “The one who has the most love.”

    Steve, just sent you a message asking if you are the same SC who briefly worked for Michael Jaffe… came here because you indicated that, when traveling, you don’t read the “contact” messages very often…

  2. Catching up with you, Stevele, and loving the blog. Apropos of your debunking of Kristof in the sense of education, yesterday I awarded a full scholarship for a master’s degree in education to a Hindu woman from the poorest district in all Pakistan. As a hated minority, Hindus are kicked around here, and by that I mean excluded from most benefits, and many times killed for religious or other reasons. And being a woman is even worse. But this woman has struggled through all this to gain this scholarship. I was humbled by her courage and strength. Talk about fighting for an education. We will find her this June at Northern Colorado University.


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