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Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of…

Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living

by Manjula Martin

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Just how do writers make a living? How do they go from debt-ridden students (mostly) to property owning, wine drinking and caviar eating human beings? Or at least how do they manage to make ends meet? Or, really, do any of them manage that? Few enough do for this to be a live question — a question that some publisher thinks enough would-be writers will be wondering about to warrant publishing a collection of essays on just this topic.

Everyone in this collection has “made it”, so to speak, in one way or another. They range from people who are barely eking out a living by combining their writing with adjunct professorships and jobs in taverns, to those who’ve been at the top of the bestsellers lists for years and years. Given that range you might expect more variation in the stories told and messages to pass on to young writers hoping to make their ways in the world. But in fact the advice here mostly boils down to 1) have a lot of gumption and sticktoitiveness; 2) write what you love (and love what you write); and 3) be lucky. Mostly being lucky seems to be the most consistently useful attribute to have.

Despite the somewhat saminess of the essays, I still enjoyed them. But by far the essay that stood out as a singularly impressive piece of writing in its own right was Kiese Laymon’s, “You Are the Second Person.” That one was worth the price of the book by itself (had I not got my copy from the public library). ( )
1 vote RandyMetcalfe | Jul 10, 2017 |
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"A collection of essays from today's most acclaimed authors--from Cheryl Strayed to Roxane Gay to Jennifer Weiner, Alexander Chee, Nick Hornby, and Jonathan Franzen--on the realities of making a living in the writing world. In the literary world, the debate around writing and commerce often begs us to take sides: either writers should be paid for everything they do or writers should just pay their dues and count themselves lucky to be published. You should never quit your day job, but your ultimate goal should be to quit your day job. It's an endless, confusing, and often controversial conversation that, despite our bare-it-all culture, still remains taboo. In Scratch, Manjula Martin has gathered interviews and essays from established and rising authors to confront the age-old question: how do creative people make money? As contributors including Jonathan Franzen, Cheryl Strayed, Roxane Gay, Nick Hornby, Susan Orlean, Alexander Chee, Daniel Jose Older, Jennifer Weiner, and Yiyun Li candidly and emotionally discuss money, MFA programs, teaching fellowships, finally getting published, and what success really means to them, Scratch honestly addresses the tensions between writing and money, work and life, literature and commerce. The result is an entertaining and inspiring book that helps readers and writers understand what it's really like to make art in a world that runs on money--and why it matters. Essential reading for aspiring and experienced writers, and for anyone interested in the future of literature, Scratch is the perfect bookshelf companion to On Writing, Never Can Say Goodbye, and MFA vs. NYC"--… (more)

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