Writer Abroad is reading the most amazing book. It talks candidly about writing and money. Yes, money.
Money? Stop the press. Aim the camera. Point it at something completely taboo: A writer talking about money. Actually, 33 writers talking about money.
Writers never talk about money. And if they do, it’s usually in the vein of, Well, should I write for free? I mean, I’ll get exposure.
Stop with the exposure thing already. Stop.
Admittedly, Writer Abroad is only on page 29, but she’s in love with Manjula Martin’s new book, Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living. Here’s the best line so far:
“People wonder when you’re allowed to call yourself a writer. I think maybe the answer is when you recognize that it (writing) is work.”
Wow, imagine that. Writing is work. And guess what? The writers who successfully write full time realize this. After all, do lawyers work for free? Do plumbers fix your water heater for free? Why do writers think they should be any different?
If you want to make writing a career here’s the hard truth: you have to talk about money. And you have to turn writing into work no matter how much you love it. And you have to also learn to say no. No to no pay. No to low pay. And no to bad contracts. Even if they mean publication. Especially if they mean publication.
Writer Abroad always turns down offers if they include no pay, low pay, or bad rights-grabbing contracts for work she knows she could use later. Working writers must do this. Why? Because they need time to write things for the publications and companies that actually respect the work they do. If writers write for people who don’t respect them, writers lose. There’s only so much time in a day.
In Scratch, there’s a great interview with Cheryl Strayed about how she had written a bestseller and still couldn’t pay the rent. These are things writers need to hear. Thank you, thank you, Manjula Martin, for this anthology.
Sometimes we need to stop talking about high art and start talking about how to live the life we want to live in order to create the things we want to create—even if, in the end, these things result in high art.
That’s why Writer Abroad is pleased to be on a panel entitled Career Paths in Writing at the next Zurich Writers Workshop, which will be held in May in Zurich, Switzerland. While on the panel, she hopes to expand on why writers need to think of writing as a business first and an art second. But for those who can’t attend—and even those who can—Scratch is the new must-read book for writers.