Jennifer Weiner talks on her blog about the plight of author Mary Gaitskill, a widely acclaimed novelist and a National Book Award finalist. But acclaim, as the NY Times reports in their piece on Gaitskill, doesn’t always translate into money. Gaitskill barely scratches out a living and is deeply in debt.
"Her life is not easy," said Knight Landesman, Ms. Gaitskill’s friend and the
publisher of the magazine Artforum. "There have been good reviews, but that does
not translate into dough. She has not been offered the cushy faculty job at
Princeton. The work has been too raw, and that’s why this has been, really, such
Gaitskill’s financial troubles were a shock to Weiner, a bestselling novelist herself who considers the author a major influence.
Gaitskill was one of the writers who made me believe that I could be a
writer, too, and her characters, while creepy, live and breathe on the page. If
she’s in debt and living in a doom room trying to write over the noise of
Britney Spears, there’s something wrong with the modern-day patronage system
that I always figured was working pretty well.
I recommend both Weiner’s post and the NY Times article to all aspiring writers — many of whom have unrealistic expectations about what they can expect once they are published. Sadly, Gaitskill’s story is far more common than Weiner’s.