The Lucky 500

My husband has taken 6 weeks of paternity leave after the birth of each of our children, and he’s now just a little over halfway through this particular stretch. He is not much of a cook (OK – not a cook at all) and it takes him an hour to clean a bathroom, but he is very, very helpful with the kids. He gets up at 6 a.m. when our toddler starts screaming, gets all of them dressed, changes diapers throughout the day, and cobbles together something resembling breakfast, lunch and dinner. He also bathes the oldest three children and puts them to bed each night.

It’s been great. I can spend lots of time with the baby, take naps, and plan little day trips for our new family of six. I don’t even want to think about the day his leave ends. Which is why I found myself dreaming up ways to keep him from ever having to go back to work again. After discussing our pie-in-the-sky plans, we came up with two options:

Option #1 – Live in an alternate reality where our mortgage is paid off, our house is no longer in need of any expensive repairs, and we have access to very affordable health insurance for the entire family. If all of these things were true, and we lived frugally, we could likely live on our meager farm income rather than him returning to his desk job.

Option #2 – Win the lottery.

Notice there is no Option #3 – Write a best selling novel. You see, that’s kind of a joke in our house. Anytime we ever want something that’s hopelessly out of reach, one of us always says, “Now if we could just win the lottery.” My husband used to add, “Or you can write a best selling novel,” and then I would have a little conniption. Because no matter how successful I become, it is very unlikely that I will ever make enough as a novelist to buy a vacation home, or take my entire family on a cruise, or spend money without a second thought.

I’ve seen several estimates, but most place the number of novelists in America who make a full time living from book sales at between 300 and 500. I’m sure if you take into account income from writing workshops, speaking engagements, and freelance editing, the number is higher, but that’s not what people think of when they picture a successful novelist. They picture someone writing a few hours a day, and holding book signings for the fun of it. That’s why I’m sticking with the 500 number.

In contrast, according to the TLC show How the Lottery Changed My Life, 1,600 people a year win lottery payouts of one million dollars or more. Sixteen-hundred! Even if this number is high, there are still at least double the number of people becoming millionaires each year as there are novelists making a living from their books. And consider that each year there are 1,600 new millionaires minted by the lottery. I imagine a comprehensive annual list of the lucky 500 would reveal some of the same names over and over.

Which is why my husband is off to purchase lottery tickets. Can he pick up a few for you?


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