Writing Hungry

Our grocery carts aren't so full these days.


I’m in the middle of living something new: writing hungry.

I’ve always seen the idea of the starving artist as an unnecessary cliché, but I’m as close as I will likely ever be to living it. (I certainly hope this isn’t our new normal!) We are paying half of our income to cover childcare this summer so that I can have time to finish my draft of novel #3.

Okay, so I’m not exactly hungry. We live in America, after all. But I am painfully aware of the economic price of my creative efforts right now, of the sacrifices my family is making for this work to be possible. All this, without any certainty about when novel #3 will sell–or how much we might expect for it. 

I’m not far enough into the experience to know how things will turn out. On a Writing Excuses podcast, one of the hosts said, “I find feeding my family to be a powerful motivator,” when asked about how it feels to be a “career” writer as opposed to having a day job.

On the other hand, though, here’s what one of my favorite misbehaving characters, the nephew from Diderot’s Le Neveu de Rameau, says about poverty and art: 

Oh, Mister Philosopher, poverty is a terrible thing. I see her crouching there, with her mouth gaping open to receive a few drops of icy cold water dripping from the barrel of the Danaids. I don’t know if she sharpens the mind of the philosopher, but she has a devilish way of cooling off the head of a poet. People don’t sing well under this barrel.

Will writing hungry be a powerful motivator or a chilling force? I’ll keep you posted.


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