I’m an academic. My spouse is also an academic. We are not high rollers. We have a mortgage, car payments, student loans. We are raising our children with the plan that we will help them pay for college some day. (They also want to buy lots of Legos right now.) We are comfortable, however. We have retirement accounts and savings and health insurance. We have safety nets and fallback plans. We have the stability that two decently-paying jobs can provide.
I’m writing about this because of the article that sparked my theme for this year’s Blogging from A to Z Challenge: the Salon piece by Ann Bauer, which recounts the resources she has that support her writing life and the reluctance people have about discussing their own resources. While I’m not in the top income bracket, I’m able to go on writing retreats a few times a year, take an online writing course and hire a freelance editor without breaking the bank.
It’s odd to write about my own financial resources. It feels like I’m showing off in some ways (look at all that I have!) and also reminds me that while I’m not in the uppermost income bracket, I have a lot of privilege.
Sure, I did all the work in college and grad school that gave me the credentials to secure my current job. But I also had opportunities (like attending college & grad school) that lots of people don’t have. I have the kind of financial security I have today mainly due to being born into a particular situation. Sheer luck.
I also have the resource of time, thanks to my job. I have time to write because I have a nine-month contract, several breaks during the year, and a tremendous amount of autonomy regarding how I spend my time at work. Whenever I get down because of my job, I remember that I have more time and autonomy than I would in almost any other profession.
Lots of people write from countless circumstances, but I don’t want to pretend that I am able to write because I’m somehow “special.” I’m able to write because of the financial advantages – as well as the time perks – that come from my profession and the privilege of being born into a certain situation. One of my jobs is to remember not to take it lightly.