On most Fridays, Evan Peterson rounds up five stories from across the Web that scribes of all stripes should check out.
The beginning of a new year marks a good time for writers to assess their careers. This week, there were a few stories that examine writers at different stages and different levels of success, diving into topics such as how to balance two writing careers and when to give up the freelance life.
Breaking up with writing:
In this piece for The Awl
, Bethlehem Shoals writes about a moment many of us have faced: whether to continue on the freelance path, or go for something more stable. After he became a father, Shoals went for the latter at an ad agency. Here he writes about why he's OK with the experience. “There was no rational process or emotional tug-of-war. It was more like an invading army had landed and I was glad, not heartbroken, to welcome them.” Read the full piece here
Balancing a writing life: The New York Times
profiles author Lawrence Wright, who wrote a new book about Scientology and Hollywood. But that's not why you should read this piece. The article takes a shallow dive into Wright's playwriting, and how he balances a successful career in that world while working as a bestselling non-fiction author. The description of Wright's work ethic on his latest book also provides a glimpse into the difference between caring about a project and just getting it done. Read the full article here
Read fewer books:
Author Michael Bourne shares a feeling that’s common among writers, “I suspect that when they’re alone at their writing desk most serious writers are like me: for most of their early writing lives, they read their own stuff and cringe.” For a long time, he treated this problem by reading as many books as he could. In this piece for The Millions
, he describes why, as his writing has improved, he feels less need to count the books he reads. Read the full article here
Charging for a blog:
Before paywalls or freemiums, some of the most popular blogs and news sites charged a flat subscription rate. Andrew Sullivan, of the popular blog The Daily Dish
, started with a pay model many years ago, before moving it to Time
, The Atlantic
, and most recently, The Daily Beast
. Now he's setting out on his own again, asking readers to pay $19.99 a year for access. Sullivan's success with the project could pave the way for other bloggers. (Thus far, he’s picked up more than $330,000
from readers.) It also highlights the importance of attracting dedicated readers, as this piece from The Atlantic explains
Happy New Year from Mark Twain:
The Paris Review Daily
highlighted an 1863 quote from Twain about the New Year's holiday. It said (in part): “Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community.” Read the full post
Evan Peterson is a writer based in Chicago, and the editor of OpenMarkets magazine at CME Group. He's on Twitter @evanmpeterson.