Writers and Their Day Jobs

By posted at 3:00 pm on January 17, 2013 3

Writing for Full Stop, Robert Fay asks, “If Mr. [T.S.] Eliot had to have a day job, why is it that writers and poets today are so cagey about what they do to pay the bills?” Previously, two of our staff writers have explored similar aspects of the same question.  In 2009, Emily St. John Mandel wrote of the “constant struggle” that arises from “striking a balance between writing literary fiction and paying the rent.” And last year, Edan Lepucki looked at the perils of including “non-writing jobs” in one’s author bio.

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3 Responses to “Writers and Their Day Jobs”

  1. bewhatwedo
    at 10:53 am on January 20, 2013

    I don’t understand how people make enough to live without a day job! This article in the Guardian last year completely freaked me out:

  2. Writers and Day Jobs | Robert Fay
    at 7:54 pm on January 26, 2013

    […] Millions included it in their […]

  3. Ezra
    at 9:12 am on January 30, 2013

    “why is it that writers and poets today are so cagey about what they do to pay the bills?”

    Because it’s an admission of failure. I have no exact proof to back this up, but I think that in the past (before, say, 1980), it was more acceptable to be poor. The 1960’s counterculture promoted noncommercial values; there was the possibility of honor in the aggressively rejection or renunciation of the “square” lifestyle. I wasn’t alive in the 60’s, so I’m just going on received notions about what it was like to be a Kerouac type back then, but I am certain that today, that is not an option. Tocqueville wrote: “In the United States, professions are more or less laborious, more or less lucrative, but never higher or lower. All honest professions are honorable” (Chapter 18). I do not believe this to be the case today.

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