It’s a Privilege

If you haven’t yet dipped into the conversation about how writers balance their income-streams and their creative output—or, more to the point, how many writers are subsidized or supported by their spouses—use this piece as an opportunity to retrace the path through the links to Ann Bauer’s Salon piece, Laura Bogart’s response, and more.

I was thrilled to first read Bauer’s essay, suggesting that for as long as “sponsored” (or, less kindly, “kept”) writers omit their status as such from their narratives of themselves and their careers, they are perpetuating problems of privilege. Of course, the same is true well beyond the writing world. Forget envy of productive writers who also have cute outfits at literary parties and manage to attend yoga classes in the middle of the day. Full-time mothers, editorial assistants, public school teachers — these jobs are all ripe for spousal sponsorship.

In the years between graduating college and seeing friends build careers and families, I slowly began to notice a pattern. Not — not! — universal. But noticeable. Men were choosing power-and-money jobs, women were choosing careers of passion or purpose. Freelancing, teaching, participating in the publishing industry, pursuing PhDs. And then these men and women paired up, and women making modest salaries jumped up in purchasing power and comfort, their gripes about the cost of insurance, loan payments, and rent fading into silence. (Some already had the safety net or outright support of financially comfortable families.) New York is a city that seems to be stuffed with investment-bannker—associate-editor marriages.

As an unmarried person, my financial-familial life story isn’t written yet. Neither is my career’s. But even single, I have plenty of my own privilege to acknowledge and to be grateful for. The cultural and political structures that I imagine create these patterns we unwittingly follow deserve much, much more excavation and discussion. I’ll leave this morning’s post to be the first part.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Dubai-Property-11Hananah Zaheer weighs in on the recent discussion in Salon, Dame, Missouri Review, Bustle, Medium and on various personal blogs, about writers, money, privilege and support. (Gentle Readers, we’ll do a round-up on those posts later this week).

It’s a privilege.

I often joke that I wish I was a writer in the old days. Non-specific, old days where artists had patrons who took care of their expenses and living, and all they were responsible for was writing, creating, painting. My husband likes to remind me that I do: him.

This is true. Much like Ann Bauer admits in her Salon piece I, too, must confess that I do not have the pressures that come from having difficult financial circumstances. I live in Dubai in a nice neighborhood. I have help at home, I drive a nice car; I had never considered the word exactly, but I fit the description of…

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