Writers and Their Day Jobs

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.

works on special projects for The Millions. He lives in Baltimore and he frequents dive bars. His interests can be followed on his Tumblr, Nick Recommends and Twitter, @nemoran3.

3 comments:

  1. “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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