• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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The Best Things in Life are Free


When I was a young idealistic poet type, I heard this quote by SamuelJohnson, “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.” I was deeply offended by the sentiment. I mean shouldn’t one write for passion? Ironic isn’t it that I became a literary agent, that my work is all about getting writers money? Literally. Benjamins. It’s my job to get out there on the choppy waters and bring something home. Sometimes when you do a huge deal for a writer, he’ll say:  I would have written it for free. Blockhead. Okay, I still believe you should write out of passion and I’m not even going to say the money will follow. That’s another not truism.

Do you write for money?

12 Responses

  1. I write for money. But, umm, it ain’t working. (Well, not entirely true. Once it worked and that was really delicious. I liked getting a big fat check.)

  2. The writing I do for money isn’t nearly my best. I write that stuff with one eye on the clock. (It’s still good enough to get hired, my clients tell me how grateful they are. I give good word.) My best is the writing I do because it makes me… well, because it makes me.

    Here’s my question. Would you rather have one eager reader who gave you a million dollars, or a million eager readers who gave you a penny apiece? I’d totally take the second option. I’m trying to bring people and their lives into the world, and readers matter far more than bank. (If I had an agent, she’d disagree strongly here.)

    The only reason I’d hope for a big advance is because it puts enough burden on the publisher that they couldn’t afford to orphan the damn thing. Otherwise, who needs an advance? Give me my buck a copy and let’s see how many folks step up. I was astonished when Chad Harbach got five-eighths of a million dollars for one really interesting idea diluted across 500 pages. But you bet Little, Brown stepped it up in the face of those sunk costs.

  3. “Do you write for money?”



    Can’t want to.


    It burns!

    No! The want to burns! Take it away!

    If you give me money for it, I will take it, but I can’t want the money for it before I make it.

  4. Hell, yes. Half a cent a word. Precious little for a shit ton of work. Even a little compensation massages the soul. But I love the work. So there you have it. Not for real money, me thinks, if you’re a writer, artist, musician, etc, etc.

  5. I get money but don’t write for money. It’s a frill.

  6. Yes and no. Right now I’m writing an actual book (gift book type) that I’m going to get paid for, but I won’t own the copyright. It’s freeing as fuck. My editor changed a bunch of words, and I don’t care! Some of my sentences suck, but I don’t care! But it’s not The Fucker and my creative soul isn’t really at stake. It’s fantastic to be paid for something that is an actual skill, so I don’t buy this “selling out” shit. It’s two different levels of writing; it just sucks that the one I work harder on doesn’t (yet) have any money coming in.

  7. I am a poor man. I try to make money doing what I love but, as my friend DK sings, “Money and me have an understanding; it goes one way, I go another.” Things just don’t seem to work out. And it’s not a bad thing because I’m relatively happy, so there is that.
    I would love to make money from writing, but I’ll write regardless of which way the cash flows. So yeah, I write for money, but that’s not even close to the only reason. And I’m certain if old Mr. Johnson ever met me on a flight on some astral plane, he’d say, “Now there’s a blockhead.”

  8. It’s love and money, friends, but far more love. I’m with herb’s option two.

  9. Blockhead. So funny, and makes me think of Linus. “Charlie Brown, you blockhead!”

    I didn’t set out to write for money. Sure is nice to get some though. I mean, hey, I like cheese sandwiches just as much as the next person. Grilled preferably. Which reminds me of Margaret Atwood’s brilliant speech sort of about this very thing:


  10. I like money.

  11. I raked in 156. so far from writing. One quilt article, plus royalties from a novel.

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