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Susan Orlean's (modified) advice for aspiring writers

Posted by Christopher Shea  September 23, 2010 09:04 AM

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On the New Yorker's website, Susan Orlean remarks that the decline of newspapers and alt-weeklies has rendered much of the advice that she used to offer aspiring writers out-of-date. However, one piece of advice remains true: Don't move back in with your parents after college, thinking that that's one way to keep expenses down while scribbling away. Why? "Your parents will make you go to law school!"

"Parents," she says, "have an almost Olympian persistence when it comes to suggesting more secure and lucrative lines of work for their children who have the notion that writing is an actual profession. I say this from experience. Even after I’d published three books and had been writing full-time for twenty years, my father continued to urge me to go to law school. I think he deliberately misinterpreted my look of discomfort whenever we’d have this discussion. "Oh, there, there, don’t worry!" he’d say. "It’s not too late!"

On the other hand, her dad's got a point! (At least concerning lucrativeness. Law school is a mug's game, too, at this point.)

PS While looking on the web for a picture of Orlean, it struck me that she omitted one option that takes the need to earn a living out of the equation for writers: Marry someone rich.

susanorleanphoto_p233_crop.jpg

Susan Orlean

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