The Writer’s Life

Prairie Mary gives us one of the best essays I have seen on the unglamorous side of the writer’s life, that is, life as we know it, here.

“My income puts me four dollars over the poverty line, but this is a choice — as school teachers these days say in a blaming voice as though that explained everything. I knew I would never get even the first book written unless I escaped Portland and deadhead salary work. I saw poverty as a kind of freedom, a purity, a simplification. So I retired a little too soon.

(snip)

“The first book is written and sold but it turns out there will be no money for a year and then it will be a modest amount. The fact is that our culture no longer values writing. Our media has gone digital video and may not return. Everyone writes — not very well — but the publishing houses have crashed. Indeed, the newspapers and magazines are crashing. Writers are as unemployed as Detroit assembly line workers. Rolling poverty.”

And yet, finally, this is not at all a depressing essay.

“It was like coming into an inheritance to return to this dry, windy, pop. 300 village. Now I’m wealthy in time, materials, ideas, security, sunlight… But that only increases the necessity of simplification, discipline, awareness. While this lasts. Across the street the little house of one of my neighbors has been emptied over the past week or so. She is in a nursing home. The very large family cleared out what they wanted, then held a “garage” sale. We wait to see who buys the little house. It is not grand enough to attract a Hummer driver, thank… um… Buddha.”

RTWT– you know.

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