Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Writing Life of the "Successful" Author

The Boston Globe recently ran a story about author Leah Hager Cohen. It has become rare to find an article about someone who's basically a mid-list writer. By her own admission, Cohen is not making a lot of money writing both novels and nonfiction. She may have to start teaching to make ends meet, she said. Frankly, that doesn't sound so bad to me, but I'm sure she'd prefer to be able to write on her usual schedule. The article also describes what to me sounds like a dream relationship with an agent: the agent pushed her but was honest, perhaps also blunt.

This article is also another example of why it's important for newspapers -- especially major ones like the Globe -- to continue to cover writers and books. While there are tons of Web sites and blogs out there that talk about writers no one in the "mainstream" world has ever heard of, when a New York Times, LA Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, or any of the other important U.S. newspapers include stories about authors other than Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, John Grisham, or any of the instantly recognizable, commercial writers, it helps all of us who aspire to get their works published and to believe there will be avenues of distribution for us too.

Keep writing, Ms. Cohen, and if you have to teach, then do it. Because that's one more way of developing writers and readers. Those kids will go off to college and talk about the quirky English teacher they had who had a few books published. The audience can keep growing one commuter at a time.

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