Review : Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living


For writers who are hoping to make a living from their art, Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living is a valuable read. A collection of essays edited by Manjula Martin, the former founder and editor of Scratch magazine, Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living covers a wide variety of topics important to writers (think MFA programs, book deals, freelance writing) trying to earn a living while pursuing their publishing dreams.

Why I wanted to read it

Honestly, essays by Cheryl Strayed, Jennifer Weiner, and Susan Orlean are what first drew me to the collection. They are big name authors who struggled to get their work read and respected. Additionally, there are essays and interviews with Nick Hornby, Roxanne Gay, Yiyun Li, Jonathan Franzen, and more.

As an aspiring writer, any knowledge of how others have navigated the terrain of making a living by way of pen and paper, is beneficial to me as I navigate my own writing career.

As I read through the sections- Early Days, The Daily Grind, & Someday– I was drawn to the honesty and detail some writers shared about the hope and hustle it takes to make it as a published writer. Published being the operative word- each writer has their own goal and idea of what ‘success’ is as a writer in today’s publishing world.

What I got from it

Writing is not for the weak. Not only do you have to produce quality writing- stories, essays, ideas that anyone and everyone will embrace- but you have to hustle and hound your way to where you aspire your work to thrive. It takes hard work, perseverance and, most times, an understanding of how a business operates. Even when you land a great deal and the money flows easily, it doesn’t mean that the money continues to flow. Your art could suffer. Your bank account could suffer.

SCRATCH addresses the disconnect between commerce and art that often happens and drives most writers to distraction. It’s a rewarding read for any level of writer.

Writers, what titles do you find are rewarding reads in regards to craft? Please share in the comments below!

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