The choice to live and work as a writer

By Alicia Anstead | Published: April 1, 2013

AliciaAnstead3The choice to live and work as a writer is a tricky one. When we’re on a successful jag, we crank it out with guts and gusto. When we’re not successful, what do we do? Keep writing anyway. Shutting down the writer’s mind is among the most undoable tasks. We try to turn it off, but it keeps us up at night, loses us in thought, strains our attention span for other activities.

Usually, we are called to the profession from deep within. Sometimes we fall into gigs – read Amy Farnum’s Breakthrough story about identifying as a writer – and sometimes we are drawn to the field because we have a story that needs telling. Novelist Samhita Arni, interviewed here by Kavitha Rao, is fascinated by myths, which she retells in various literary formats because the novel alone couldn’t contain Arni’s ambition to explore her topic. (She was working on a TV show in Afghanistan during the interview.)

Reporter Dale McGarrigle surveyed a lineup of national writers, each with a unique narrative to share. He was curious about the lives of freelancers and their entrée into the world of writing. What did he discover? Not all freelance writers are in the business of crafting the next great American novel. But they all – to a person – lead busy lives.

One of my favorite stories in this issue is about a quartet of women writers who met in a workshop, formed their own group and ended up writing a book together. The takeaway? You may write alone, but you can find community through the spirit of the work.

However you get there, the path to a writer’s life can be rosy or risky. Or both.

If you live and work as a writer, you’re in the right place with our magazine. Whether you cleave to prompts and how-to strategies, or enjoy reading about the process of other writers, you’ve come to the right pages. We’re glad you’re here, and we hope you find support for your work in this issue of The Writer.