A dirty secret: you can only be a writer if you can afford it

There is nothing more sustaining to long-term creative work than time and space – and these things cost money

  • Two in five: our new series about the disappearance of the US middle class

Let’s start with me: I’m not sure how or if I’d still be a writer without the help of other people’s money. I have zero undergrad debt. Of my three years of grad school, two of them were funded through a teaching fellowship; my parents helped pay for the first. The last two years my stipend barely covered the childcare I needed to travel uptown three days a week to teach and go to class and my husband’s job is what kept us afloat.

I got connections from that program. I got my agent through the recommendation of a professor. Nearly every year since I graduated from that program, I have been employed by them. The thing I’m most sure I had though, that was a direct result of my extraordinary privilege, is the blindness with which I bounded toward this profession, the not knowing, because I had never felt, until I was a grownup, the very real and bone-deep fear of not knowing how you’ll live from month to month.

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