The Life of a Writer

In a concerted effort to “give back” what has been provided to me by writers who have come before me, I have made myself available as a writing mentor for several universities and organizations. I believe you pay back as you go, not when your career is over. The following questions and answers are from student writers who found me via the Columbia University Center for Career Services Alumni Resource Network.

Q: What do you think I need to know to make an intelligent decision about writing for a living?

BOLES: The first thing to realize that the life of a writer, be it one of a playwright, author, freelancer or screenwriter is governed by instability and unpredictability when you begin. Starting out in the writing business means that one month you might make $12,000 in royalties and then the next six months you earn nothing. It’s the nature of the beast. I’m lucky that I have a lovely and loving wife who understood the caste of a creative writer when we first got married. It was her steady income early on that freed me to write. We considered her paycheck our “daily bread” while my waning and waxing riches were the butter we sometimes spread across our crumbs. Writing is a Calling and its cures and curses are not unlike those who serve The Cloth of God. Read my Go Inside article, Greater Goodness, for the details on that comparison. The key for me is writing — it doesn’t matter how, when or what as long as I can do it to experience the world.

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