My Proteins

April 2, 2019

They have discovered, they say,
the protein of itch —
natriuretic polypeptide b —
and that it travels its own distinct pathway
inside my spine.
As do pain, pleasure, and heat.

A body it seems is a highway,
a cloverleaf crossing
well built, well traversed.
Some of me going north, some going south.

Ninety percent of my cells, they have discovered,
are not my own person,
they are other beings inside me.

As ninety-six percent of my life is not my life.

Yet I, they say, am they —
my bacteria and yeasts,
my father and mother,
grandparents, lovers,
my drivers talking on cell phones,
my subways and bridges,
my thieves, my police
who chase my self night and day.

My proteins, apparently also me,
fold the shirts.

I find in this crowded metropolis
a quiet corner,
where I build of not-me Lego blocks
a bench,
pigeons, a sandwich
of rye bread, mustard, and cheese.

It is me and is not,
the hunger
that makes the sandwich good.

It is not me then is,
the sandwich —
a mystery neither of us
can fold, unfold, or consume.

Jane Hirshfield

not the salvation

April 2, 2019

The orgasm focuses. I lust to write. The coming of the orgasm is not the salvation but, more, the birth of my ego. I cannot write until I find my ego. The only kind of writer I could be is the kind who exposes himself.. . .To write is to spend oneself, to gamble oneself. But up to now I have not even liked the sound of my own name. To write, I must love my name. The writer is in love with himself. . .and makes his books out of that meeting and that violence.

Susan Sontag
Journal entry 19th November 1959

his world and no other

April 2, 2019

Every great or even every very good writer makes the world over according to his own specifications. It’s akin to style, what I’m talking about, but it isn’t style alone. It is the writer’s particular and unmistakable signature on everything he writes. It is his world and no other. This is one of the things that distinguishes one writer from another. Not talent. There’s plenty of that around. But a writer who has some special way of looking at things and who gives artistic expression to that way of looking: that writer may be around for a time.

Raymond Carver
On Writing

Most writers can’t make a living writing. This surprises some people. In fact, since I started doing the research for this piece and have been able to throw around specific figures regarding likely incomes, I have flummoxed more than a few people, who seem to think that writers get paid millions to lounge about in their pyjamas and slippers, or at least can afford groceries like most normal folks.

It’s estimated that fewer than 1000 fiction writers in North America make a living from their writing…

[and] income from writing is back loaded. That is, you write the book, edit the book, wait for the book to be published  (which can take up to two years after it has been accepted)  do publicity for the book and often start a second book without seeing much more payment than the first half of your advance. So, unless you have another source of income or a supportive spouse, that’s two to three years of living off of Kraft Dinner and cat food in a tent with no evening gowns in sight.

Jennifer Ellis
Making a living as a writer