I was having coffee with a friend in Ireland the other day, and he talked about someone he knew.
He makes a living, well, for being Irish.
At one point, I considered emigrating to Ireland. I had all the paperwork, but I didn’t go through with it because other things came through that would require me to remain in the states.
Like many, I had a dream of making a living as a writer there.
However, it turns out that the arts council only funds literature, and they don’t respect genre work at all (and I’ve basically always been a genre writer). The panel at Shamrokon about where the Irish SF was(n’t) was truly depressing for me.
In fact, the only Irish-themed SF novel I can think of that I’ve ever read is Flynn Connolly’s _The Rising of the Moon, published by Del Rey in 1993. And Flynn’s from the US.
Fantasy is more respected in Ireland, but only because it’s very tied up with being Irish. So things like not sleeping in fairy forts aren’t perceived as fantasy—rather they’re seen as common sense.
In essence, the funding, like MFA programs, is about the homogenization of taste. You can make a living, but only within a narrow spectrum. Nothing else is worthy, and the market’s not big enough to support writers (or Irish publishers) who don’t get arts council money. As one small press pointed out, if you ever take their money, you’re doomed to follow their dictates.
For the first time, I’m not wistful about not having taken that path all those years ago.