Writing as Profession

February 10, 2016 | 2

Writers can’t create original work without financial stability and a minimum amount of rest, writes Maggie Doherty in Dissent. Pair with Kate Angus’s Millions essay on making a living as a poet.

is an intern for The Millions. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in BOMB, Ploughshares online, Music & Literature, Words Without Borders, and elsewhere. She is currently the assistant fiction editor for Washington Square Review. She tweets at @bdantaslobato.


  1. What a load of horseshit. Toughen up. I know one thing: no one with as soft a mind as this will ever produce anything original.

  2. Madame:

    As many of you at The Millions are aware, frequent pesky contributor “Moe Murph” or Maureen Murphy, is actually also fully-employed as my Surly Biographer. As I am incorporeal, fictional, and died in 1913, I found it necessary to obtain her assistance to reconstruct my Lost Memoirs. For the first time, an article and commentary have inspired me to respond. Miss Murphy, in a shockingly good-tempered gesture, has assented to my taking her place today and having my say.

    First, as to Anon, I must say: Bully! We Americans are made of sterner stuff than the vinegar and water-blooded European dissolutes who lazed their way through the day on Patronage. And don’t even get me started on the Icelandics. Phooey, I say. I must now present my points in order:

    a.) Miss. Murphy (or Moe Murph) did very well in her prior occupation as the Park Poet in Dupont Circle. She lived under the most large and splendid tree, selling her poems from a coffee can. She ate a healthy diet of tree bark, grease-smeared hot dog wrappings, and rain water. Due to her stern resolve and tough-mindedness, she still managed to write 52 poems a week, several of which were somewhat coherent.

    b.) Now that Miss. Murphy has taken on her post as my Scribe, I provide her with a queenly sum of $5.00 a week salary, a soft bed of paper bundles in the supply cabinet, and all the mechanical pencils she can pilfer. Late into the night, I can hear her scribbling away on her Magnum Opus, and cursing at the mice and other vermin who come out after hours. Working from 12 a.m. to 4:30 a.m., she has a refreshing 1 hour sleep, then begins her 19-hour workday for me.

    c.) To remain hardy, both Miss. Murphy and I take regular ice swims in the Potomac, at all pollutant levels (to build resistance) and in lieu of health care, make do with ample dosages each day of cod liver oil. If a fever hits either of us, we apply leeches vigorously to release the deadly vapors. Obamacare, Shmabamacare,I say.

    d.) Ms. Lobato, I urge you to stay away from such writings as those cited, as you begin your career. I suspect and fear these females may even be Bolsheviks.

    Your Servant,

    Senator K.F. Tutwiller, IV (1823-1913) https://twitter.com/MamurphyMaureen

    Note from Moe Murph: Senator Tutwiller died during a tragic filibuster incident in 1913, of apoplexy brought on after several Senators attempted to limit child labor to those over 8 years old. The Senator’s last worlds were “Child labor is the backbone of a productive and resilient American workforce… and..gngn.gngn aaargh.”

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