Laura Axelrod has some interesting things to say about being a writer and dealing with debt on her Gasp! blog. Check it out.
I recently added up the cost of my recent trip to NYC for the American Globe Festival. This is a festival where you have to find your own director and actors and foot the bill. The festival provides the space, tech, publicity, insurance, etc. Which is great. But even with all of that covered, I probably spent $180 on stuff (props and actors) for the show, plus another $140 to go down and see it (bus tickets, subway, meals. I slept on my friends' couch).
Each playwright got $25 in royalties.
Now, I had a great time, and the director and cast did a fine job with the show (which was sold out and advanced to the finals, though it didn't win any prizes). It was the first time the show was produced, so it was helpful for me to see it. I had some good meetings with playwright friends and got the chance to hawk my novel to some bookstores. The people who run the festival are very nice. And it's always cool, at least psychologically, to have a show in New York. Maybe someone saw it who might someday want to produce something else of mine. Maybe. I don't have a sense that a lot of industry people saw the show.
What I do know is that I can't afford to take a $300 hit for a ten-minute show (and the trip to see it) very often. It's a tricky thing, to figure out how much money you should invest to get your work out there, and knowing when the return just won't be there (and the intangibles count, too).