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    From: (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: ATTN JMS: Are you a millionaire ?
    Date: 7/12/2002 9:55:00 PM  

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>He has been lucky enough to be
>quite prolific in a high paying field for a number of years despite
>the pressure of TV writing being a young man's game.

Harrumph...I'm still only 47, though I look about 60 in most photos.

>would require that JMS is
>an idiot (something he continually disproves), has a monkey on his
>back (he has several, but can't say that I have detected one that is a
>particularly costly financial drain), or has been swindled by a CFO /
>Money Manager (events probably would have been leaked to CNN).

The main monkey on my back is comics, comics related collectibles,
and...erm...I think I just ran out of stuff.

Though I'm not going to get into the specifics of this discussion, one thing
that needs to be factored into the overall understanding is that Los Angeles is
a VERY expensive town in which to live and work, and the entertainment business
is a VERY expensive field in which to work.

Gas, food, restaurants, clothes, rent (average rent for a small two-bedroom
apartment out here is about $1300 per month), mortagages (you can't find much
anything decent in town for less than about $800,000 as your baseline, and for
that you're getting maybe 1400 sq feet), it's just a money sink.

And very few people, especially writers, work year-round. You may have six
months when you're flush, then six months to a year with nothing. The average
WGA member makes one TV sale per year; the average WGA member makes less than
your average elementary school teacher. Only about 2% of the WGA earns over
$100,000 per year.

William Goldman is probably one of the best writers we have; after five years
of big hits, he couldn't get arrested for nearly ten years. Then he became big
again. Factor five years of income, however high, across 15 years
see the dilemma.

Income tax takes about 30-45% of any money you make in that tax bracket
(however shortly you might be there), the agent gets another 10%, the attorney
another 5%, so you're losing about 60% of your income right off the bat.

Which is why you can't let yourself get too caught up in the money part or
you'll go insane. All you can do if you're sensible is focus on the art and
the craft and hope for the best.

Here's the only thing I know that makes any sense when it comes to money: find
what you enjoy doing, find what moves you to passion, find what you can't *not*
do, and the miraculous thing about it is, if you're half decent at it, and
dedicate yourself to getting better, and keep at it, after a while, sonuvagun,
you can almost always find a way to make a living off it.

Well, before taxes, anyway.


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