It’s day one of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge! Today’s letter is A and I’m blogging about articles, in particular one that’s been making the rounds in the writing circuit. In “‘Sponsored’ by my husband: Why it’s a problem that writers never talk about where their money comes from,” (published in Salon this past January) Ann Bauer writes about the circumstances in her life that support her ability to write (almost) full time. She also describes encounters with other writers who were enormously privileged but who failed to acknowledge those privileges when asked about the key to their success.
The problem with this particular omission of details? Here’s what Bauer says:
“Because in this world where women will sit around discussing the various topiary shapes of their bikini waxes, the conversation about money (or privilege) is the one we never have. Why? I think it’s the Marie Antoinette syndrome: Those with privilege and luck don’t want the riffraff knowing the details. After all, if “those people” understood the differences in our lives, they might revolt. Or, God forbid, not see us as somehow more special, talented and/or deserving than them…In my opinion, we do an enormous “let them eat cake” disservice to our community when we obfuscate the circumstances that help us write, publish and in some way succeed.” (emphasis mine)
Reluctance to discuss money and privilege is certainly not limited to writers and artists. (And of course there are lots of artists who struggle to make ends meet while also creating art.) But if you ever want to fluster me and/or totally shut me up, ask me about money. Where I’m from (and I suspect this holds true for many of us), it is unseemly to talk about money. Crass, even, as Bauer described in the article. (There are legitimate reasons why it’s difficult or sometimes inappropriate to talk about money, but let’s save those for later posts.)
While I’m not going to lay out paycheck stubs and tax returns this month, I want to rise to the challenge Bauer posits at the end of her article:
“I completed my third novel in eight months flat. I started the book while on a lovely vacation. Then I wrote happily and relatively quickly because I had the time and the funding, as well as help from my husband, my agent and a very talented editor friend. Without all those advantages, I might be on page 52. OK, there’s mine. Now show me yours.” (emphasis mine)
Hence my theme this month: the practices and circumstances that support my life as a writer. I also hope, along the way, to cultivate more awe – not of me as a writer, although of course you will be dazzled by my blogging prowess, duh – but my own sense of awe and gratitude for my ability to write and the causes & conditions that make it possible.