This Moment Is Your Life

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Be happy for this moment.  This moment is your life. **

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I loved this Sarah Finnerty essay over at Brevity, about expectations following the MFA, which is really about expectations of all kinds.  She says, in part:

You are full of anxiety, paranoia, resentment and sadness. You cannot be present inside your sentences or write with intention until you are fully present inside your own body.  You will spend years so afraid of failure that you will not put your heart and soul into your writing because it is safer that way. If you pay attention you will notice that you practice this kind of detachment with your relationships too. You are on guard at all times against potential hurt. But if you continue to live that way, behind your walls, afraid of rejection and abandonment, you will live a half-life and your sentences will be half-alive.

My buddy Glenn, singing with the band.  Now that's courage.

My buddy Glenn, singing with the band. Now that’s courage.

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And then there was this interview over at Scratch Magazine where Cheryl Strayed talks money and what getting that “advance” really means.   You’ll want to click right over and read the whole thing:

First of all, you don’t just get a check for $100,000. You get four checks [over about 4 years]: one on signing, one on delivery—and that’s not just when you finish the draft, but after the editing process, when it’s going to the printer. I learned that lesson the hard way. And then you get another check on publication of the hardcover, and another check on publication of the paperback….  [And] I had accrued $50,000 in credit card debt to write that book. The same thing happened later with Wild, only I was in deeper debt.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, this month’s Poets and Writers features Roxane Gay.  Here’s a short interview about her new book:

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Happy reading and writing, everybody….

(** from Unfaithful)

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18 thoughts on “This Moment Is Your Life

  1. Josey

    Thank you for sharing this!

    Ugh, fuk’en money. there’s this whole mystery behind how it works when it comes to selling a book, right? i mean, the real logistics, the details Cheryl just gave up. i feel like if we* were all acutely aware of the facts around earning money and writing books, that we’d have this huge weight lifted and we could just go forward freely, never expecting anything – AKA a paycheck – to come of it.

    Maybe this is just me, this weight of making sure time I spend on something as time consuming as writing should be accompanied with an expected earnings statement. but now. all that should come with it is the expected satisfaction of having written something.

    sorry, i just ranted all over your blog.

    *and by we, I mean all of us who are married and monogamous to the idea we will eventually sell a book

    1. Teri Post author

      I remember Mary Karr talking about writing LIT, and how she could have made more money by the hour working at McDonalds. Not hyperbole.

    1. Teri Post author

      I loved the way she broke down the payments. $100,000 over 4 years, minus the agent fee and taxes and the paying of credit card debt. Poof! Gone.

  2. donnaeve

    I’ve only read the Strayed interview and I read it out loud to my husband so we both have our expectations on the same page. (I love it when a pun comes out) I also saw a graph once, that showed most authors make less than $1,000 a year. That was so depressing, it was one tidbit I didn’t share.

    1. Teri Post author

      And yet, being the non-dreamy-eyed realist that I am, I’m practically relieved to know all of this. I even want to know more.

      In other news, I’m about to send an essay out to see if it can find a home, and I read that the MO Review has an acceptance rate of less than 1%. Then I read that it’s 0.63%. Then I read that it’s even less than that, as they get about 10,000 submissions a year, and only publish 40 to 50 pieces.

      It’s a good thing writing is fun. Hahahahahaha! ** runs off to pour a glass of wine **

      1. donnaeve

        I know! I was more relieved than anything and I don’t know of anyone until Strayed who was so explicit. (so yes, thank you so much for sharing). Good luck on the essay…I read your story (did I tell you this already??) called THESTAGES OF CIVILITY. Exactly my sort of story…and you did such a wonderful job portraying your family dynamics, especially in light of Wade/Jennifer – and those brothers who never showed up or answered their “got-damned” phones.. Loved it, I really did. Poignant, sad, truthful.

      2. Teri Post author

        Thank you, Donna. Got-dammit! (even my husband tried to correct my spelling, but I was like “No! That’s it!!”

      3. donnaeve

        I can “hear” it. It’s like my first ms – in it I used an expression my mother said daily – multiple times a day – usually on the phone with my aunt. I swannee, did you see Mrs. Wells? Her hair was blue. I swanneee, these kids are driving me nuts. I swannee, it’s hot a Hades out here.

        I found a t-shirt with “I Swannee” on it. Of course I had to have it.

  3. Averil Dean

    I have found that one of the best things about selling a couple of books is the fact that selling doesn’t matter as much to me anymore. It was something I needed to do (and I’ll keep trying to do in the future) but having the experience in my pocket has shown me that it isn’t life-changing. Writing is life-changing. Writing is life.

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