The Writing Life
If Arthur Krystal’s collection of essays titled The Half Life is anything like the one posted on Harper’s, Sentences it is worth reading. Krystal has a masterly voice like a student from the back of the classroom shouting that the teacher’s panty line is showing.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Writers who scrabble for a living come in three denominations: the midlist writer who generally writes better than the big-name writer but has a much smaller following; the even less well-known experimental writer who refuses to sell out and publishes in out-of-the-way journals with names like Egg or Behemoth; and the somewhat successful writer who publishes in all the “right” places, but never really breaks out. To fall into any of these categories is to encounter neglect, rudeness, and indifference.”
“There are, it should be said, some good points about being a freelance writer: You can sleep late, set your own hours, work at your own pace, and not worry about someone looking over your shoulder. On the other hand, you tend to sleep late, you have to set your own hours, you work only when you feel like it, and there is no one looking over your shoulder. Lest you think I’m cranky, let me say that I don’t mind writing; I just mind writing for money. Yes, I’m aware that Dr. Johnson thought that “no man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” But I take a different view. Writing for money is work even when you’re writing what it is you want to write. And if you’re writing only for money, even a lot money, it’s a tough way to make a living.”