Alexander Chee invites Ann Beattie, Matt Bell, and five other writers to reflect on the usage of the present tense, “the current preferred mode of the self-taught writer.” Pair with our own Michael Bourne’s essay on grammar and Anthony Doerr.
“And now, as an adult, I love nothing more than curling up with a good book, closing my eyes, breathing in through my nostrils, keeping my eyes closed and not reading yet continuing to draw in oxygen for hours, and, thanks to my fetishized olfactory associations for printed and bound matter, becoming sexually aroused.” On the scent that no e-reader can ever replace.
It’s a source of hair-pulling anxiety for artists of all kinds: how can you hold down a day job yet commit yourself to your art? It’s undoubtedly possible, but it’s daunting enough that apprentice writers often need advice on how to do it. Herewith, six artists (including writers Catherine Lacey and Shane Jones) explain how they pull it off. Related: Cathy Day on making a living as a writer.
Recommended Reading: Laura Miller on Mario Vargas Llosa and cultural declinism.