Emily Gould and I are about the same age, but she has a “writing career” that most would envy. I guess. She was a prominent blogger on Gawker, apparently worked at a publishing house for awhile, lives in NYC, got a nice advance for a first book, and then another advance for another book.
In this essay called “How Much My Novel Cost Me” (posted on Medium), Gould basically just complains about her cat and about her bad spending habits, but blames it on the few steady, but nice checks from her book advance.
But her novel didn’t cost her anything. It didn’t stop her from getting another type of job (which I guess she decided to eventually get, as revealed at the end of the essay). Basically what her advance for her first novel cost her was her own financial wisdom. She spent more than she was taking in, reveling in a (selfish) vision of what a writer-ly life should be.
Her novel didn’t cost her anything, her spending habits did and so did her crazy devotion to her cat.
Writers rarely fully “make” it. Or maybe we do, it’s just not the life of leisure that we’ve dreamed about (but how many people make it to that point, before retirement?).
But there are ways of making it work. Like being smart with your money, just like any other functioning adult human.
The writing game is perilous, and it’s also takes a lot of hubris when you think you’ve “made” it, that you’re above a normal job, even if that “normal” job involves writing. I hope that someone as talented as Emily finds a regular workplace to be challenged, that may help her fiction and her essays more than she thinks.
That said, this essay is part of the collection put together by Chad Harbach “MFA vs NYC”.