Lindsey Little and fellow advocates at Parliament House, Canberra

Anti-Poverty Week: Writing off the novel approach to starvation

RESULTS volunteer Lindsey Little discovers that living under a leaky roof is all part of the deal when trying to make a buck as an author.

This post was originally published in The Mercury, 15 October 2015. 

It’s Anti-Poverty Week, which means I’m going to win the Lotto, right?

I could sure use it. The car broke down the other week, we need new fencing, the roof is leaking, one of the electrical circuits in the house shorted a month back and the insurance bill just came in. Gosh, thanks, Mr Postman.

And I have no way of paying for any of these things, because I’m a writer. Worse – I’m an emerging writer. That’s code in the publishing world for “don’t touch with a barge pole”. I’m not established yet. I’m a risky bet not worth investing in.

I’m hungry.

I thought all that would change when I got my first book published 18 months ago. I’ve received three royalty payments since then. The first one was enough to pay the quarterly Aurora bill. The second one was smaller, and bought me a cheap, take-away lunch. The third one paid for a pen. And not a fancy-shmancy fountain pen with my initials engraved on the gold casing. A Bic.

Turns out being an author makes you diddly squat.

I would have thought that making $3.86 in a six-month period would qualify me to join the ranks of the one billion people in the world living in extreme poverty.

But here’s the thing: it doesn’t. Not by a long shot.

Because I have a house. Not all the electrical sockets work, sure, but we’ve solved that problem with an extension cord. Yes, there’s a leak in the roof, but it’s not over our bed.

I have land. It’s rough, it’s unkempt, but it’s several acres of good, nutrient-rich soil. Once we sort out the fencing problem we could run sheep and goats. We could plant vegetables. If we work it properly, that land could keep us fed.

I have a family. My husband, my parents, my sister – they all have “proper” jobs that pay them regularly and well. And they have all supported me without question for the last few years while I pursue my financially-questionable career.

And I have options. No one is forcing me to be a penniless author. If I choose to, I could find another job. I have an education. I have my health. The selection of job openings in the “Classifieds” may not always be a perfect match but in this country there is always respectable work with decent pay.

Not everyone has that. Certainly not the bottom billion, living mostly in India, China and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Anti-Poverty Week isn’t about me. It’s about the people on this planet who truly have nothing. It’s about cutting them a break.

And that’s where the Global Goals come in. A few weeks ago 193 countries including Australia ratified 17 goals at a UN summit in New York. These goals aim to improve housing, eradicate disease, ensure food security and clean water, and get every child into school. These goals aim to pull every single person out of extreme poverty by 2030 so we can all lead lives of dignity and hope.

But these goals won’t be achieved simply by flying our Foreign Minister to New York and having her say what a nice idea it all is. We need to invest in them. The Global Goals will require us all to do our bit, so I’m putting my Bic to work. This week I call on the Turnbull Government to announce a reinvestment in the aid program so we can help give these people a better option for the future.

And if I win the Lotto, I’m going to put every cent into helping them too. The leaky roof can wait. They can’t.

Lindsey Little writes children’s novels in her leaky house in the Huon Valley. She has a masters degree Medieval Studies, goes ballroom dancing of an evening, and is an advocate for RESULTS Australia.

This campaign is backed by Australia's aid & development groups

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