Is the book better than the movie?

New post on the age-old debate over on It’s Just Brunch. Featuring one of my favorite movies of all time: Girl, Interrupted

Check it out! 

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“Death of an Adjunct” by Daniel Kovalik

“Death of an Adjunct” by Daniel Kovalik

“Of course, what the case-worker didn’t understand was that Margaret Mary was an adjunct professor, meaning that, unlike a well-paid tenured professor, Margaret Mary worked on a contract basis from semester to semester, with no job security, no benefits and with a salary of between $3,000 and just over $3,500 per three-credit course. Adjuncts now make up well over 50 percent of the faculty at colleges and universities.”

And this is what I was talking about yesterday. If we do what we love and we do it well, we should expect the most basic remuneration: a living wage and human dignity. And universities and other institutions take advantage of the economic situation, letting us beg for scraps and take what we’re given. 

Thanks to Sonya Huber for sharing this.

On wanting it.

This post didn’t start out negative. I swear.

A writer friend of mine recently shared this slideshow that offers tidbits from the collection Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do. In the slideshow were several pearls of wisdom, but Susan Orlean’s quote is what I’d like to address today: 

“Wanting to be a writer is a huge percentage of what makes you be one. You have to want to do it really badly. You have to feel that’s what you’re supposed to be doing.”

That’s sure easy for a published author and New Yorker staff writer to say.

I originally thought this post was going to be about how reassured I felt by Orlean’s words—how I know now that I’m really a writer, because I want it so badly. I thought I was going to talk about how we can’t base our success on how much someone pays for our work.

And then I realized: that’s bullshit. Bullshit that I keep saying, because others keep saying it. So, one poor writer to another, let’s dispense with hollow platitudes for a moment. 

Wanting it isn’t enough sometimes.

The Orlean quote reminded me of a Saturday Night Live sketch from the 2008 election season, when Hillary was officially out of the running and Palin was the VP nominee for the GOP.

Image

FEY AS PALIN: It just goes to show that anyone can be President. …All you have to do is want it.

POEHLER AS CLINTON: (LAUGHS) Yeah, you know, Sarah, looking back, if I could change one thing, I should have wanted it more.

The idea that “all you have to do is want to be a writer and you are one” falls in the same category as “anyone can succeed in America” and “you’re guaranteed a job with a college degree.” They are delusions that people with money keep perpetuating, to the continued frustration of hardworking have-nots: are we not trying hard enough? Do we not want it bad enough?

I know Orlean isn’t saying that “if you want it enough, you’ll be a successful writer and make a boatload of cash.” She’s saying, “if you want it, you already are a writer.” But this means next to nothing in the land of capitalism, household bills, and student loans.

There was a time when writers could make a living for themselves on their talents alone; they didn’t live like royalty, but they got by. But this age of freelancing and adjuncting and the ever-shrinking list of periodicals that publish and pay for original work, especially from emerging writers without a platform, makes that whole “I write for a living” thing seem pretty impossible. Very few places are able (read: willing) to pay writers a living wage, leaving us to piece together a full-time, zero-benefits schedule between community colleges and jobs off Craigslist. And who has the desire to do anything but sleep at the end of that kind of day?

I’m not going to feed you a line of bull that this life is easy or that it even feels worth the trouble every day. Sure, it’s important to believe in yourself. And, yes, even without any viable prospect for a life in which my writing pays for itself, I will continue to write and continue to try. But the longer we deny that money  matters, that being well compensated for our work is as important as the act of creating it is, I don’t see the landscape changing in our favor.

…And in honor of the Ladies of SNL theme: This post was brought to you by Debbie Downer. Womp womp.

debbie

The write music. #amwriting

I find I often need to get to a place of intense longing or sadness in order to write anything of substance.

Here are a few songs that take me there.

“L’hymne à l’amour” – Edith Piaf

Pretty much anything by Edith works wonders. This one especially.

“If it kills me (Casa Nova Sessions” – Jason Mraz

Unrequited love. If longing runs deeper than that, I don’t wanna know about it.

“Jolene” – CAKE

A genuine jam, a girl taking a chance in the night to break out of her quiet life, out-of-control love. Yeah, yeah.

“Gravity” – John Mayer

I’m usually not a fan, but damn. Keep me where the light is.

“Grey” – Ani DiFranco

…And it’s October 2007 again. (Used only when completely necessary. Knocks the wind out of me for hours.)

What are some of your writing songs?