Writers may always have worried about money, but now seems a particularly fertile time for writing about it. Scratch Magazine, launched last year, takes as its purview “Writing + money + life.” The Billfold routinely runs stories on how freelance writers and other creative types “do money.” The novelist Emily Gould opened up about her financial life in a popular Medium essay and subsequent interviews, and The Guardian’s Alison Flood recently reported on the sorry state of writers’ incomes (which, in turn, inspired some critique from Gawker’s Michelle Dean).
This spate of talk about writing and money has opened up broader conversations about who can afford to enter the profession today, and who gets shut out.
Manjula Martin, the cofounder of Scratch, told Op-Talk that “there has always been this tension for writers around how to make a living and how to make art.” However, she said, growing job insecurity in writing professions and beyond may have led to a new wave of anxiety: “As the economy is changing and as things just feel more precarious in our culture, that bleeds through to the literary culture. And I think a big part of that too is a question of, ‘is literature and are the arts going to continue to be valued in ways that we have perhaps always just assumed they would be?’”