Creative Writing – a Career for the Wealthy?

After reading a recent article in Forbes magazine on whether creative careers (journalism, designer, publishing) are now reserved exclusively for the privileged, I can’t help but wonder about creative writers, and the advantages afforded those who have the means to pursue their craft full time.

This is nothing new, of course. Throughout history, many of our well-known artists have had the means and time to help support them in their process of development.

As someone who joined the Army at 17 to pay college, went in massive debt for an MFA and who has always worked 8 -12 hours a day to make ends meet, this is a subject I’ve thought about quite a bit over the years.

First of all, this isn’t about sour grapes. I judge writing and writers only by what I read. I do believe, however, that our American literature and point of view is diminished by the lack of diversity from those with working class means.

Feel free to join in the debate – would love to hear your thoughts.

Martin Ott

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Creative Writing – a Career for the Wealthy?

  1. Most of the writers I know are working class. They hold day jobs and write when they can. Some are young and work in fast-food places or tutoring centers. Others have been able to clamber toward the middle class by entering academia. But even most of the latter group, including myself, struggles to find full-time work. Then again, I may be misinterpreting what you mean by “privilege.” In many ways, I feel very privileged — I’m a straight, white, Christian male in the United States, able to have earned one graduate degree and enjoying a free ride toward a second one. I’ve never yet had to eat dog food to avoid starving. But I’ve also never met anyone so lucky that they can support themselves writing creatively; I just haven’t been able to move in those circles. These are my thoughts from my limited perspective.

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    • writeliving

      Hi John,

      The word “privileged” was in the Forbes article, and I included for that reason. I feel blessed, as well, in my ability to make a living and still have time to work on my own writing. I do believe, however, that the opportunities are less for struggling writers and the work published by major presses may not reflect the lives most of us lead.

      Thanks for sharing.

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  2. “Priviledged” may appear in Forbes magazine, but I believe those they refer to do not fully appreciate the definition of the word. I am a mother to five children, I spend my days raising them, doing homework, running them to band practice, making the coveted goodies for their birthdays, tending to the broken heart of a teeneager, bandaging skinned knees and helping with another child’s upcoming play performance. For me to have the opportunity to sit down and write anything is a very special priviledge I hold close to my heart. I do not have 24/7 available to explore the stories spinning in my head so I take full advantage of every stolen moment I can. I believe it is us, the hard working-class people who are truly priviledged, whether we ever make it as big as Forbes or not, we are just as good and to those who overlook the talent lying within our group, they are truly missing out.

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