Continuing my log of quotes/treasures from the second section of Scratch: II THE DAILY GRIND.


“The Best Work in Literature” Manjula Martin

I had a bundle of life experience to write from, a bifurcated class identity, and a resume full of holes bigger than the ones in my unfinished manuscripts.”


“Against ‘Vs.’” Leslie Jamison

“What if we stopped thinking of money as the dirty secret of creative pursuit and instead recognized money as one of its constituent threads? Whether we like it or not, money’s presence in art doesn’t depend on whether we consider its presence. It’s always already there.”


“Love for Sale” Harmony Holiday

“Rather than death and taxes, death to black taxes. En masse. In the name of the legacy of Amiri [Baraka]. In the name of black radical writers who do not want to fund the systems their words seek to dismantle.”


“Sad Birth Lady” Meaghan O’Connell

“This trouble happened throughout the proposal process, moments when I wondered if I was making a huge career mistake. How to parse self-sabotage from self-preservation, fear from knowing better?

I came back to this fact: the book was something I would have loved to read.”


“Ghost Stories” Sari Botton

“Exactly how much do I make writing other people’s stories? For most books, I receive a flat rate—anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 in my case, plus or minus a percentage of the author’s royalties. Sometimes I get a percentage of the author’s advance—twenty-five to forty percent in my experience, plus or minus a percentage of the author’s royalties—but I am told the top ghostwriters get fifty. In the best cases I have gotten forty, with twenty-five percent of the author’s royalties. Here and there, I charge by the hour, $50 to $90, for what I call ‘editorial hand-holding’ for clients who can sort of write, but need a lot of guidance and editing work.

For me, ghostwriting is a job—one I wouldn’t do if I didn’t need the money.”


“…the guild economy is the dream…” Susie Cagle in Scratch

“Economies 101” Susie Cagle

The sad secret of this economy is that no one knows what anything is or should be worth.”


“Security” Roxane Gay

Manjula: “What were those [first book] deals like?”

Roxane: “For the novel [An Untamed State], I got a $12,500 advance. And for Bad Feminist, I got $15,000.”


“Monetization” Choire Sicha

“Writers whose work is published online should and must understand how websites work in general, as well as how the websites on which they are published work in the specific, so as to not be idiots. This particular pursuit of non-idiocy is sometimes referred to in journalism as ‘following the money,’ also know as ‘understanding the basic economic structure of the industry from which one earns a living, or hopes to.’”


“The Jump” Sarah Smarsh

On quitting her job to write THE book: “Of all my troubles, I’d most underestimated the psychological trauma of relinquishing a professional title that commands respect and proffers identity in society that values productivity above all else—a trauma likely exacerbated by my having been born, by class and gender, to little respect. As a woman who had worked nearly every day since adolescence for some employer, I’d never had so much time on my hands. I felt lost, crushed by the weight of open space and infinite possibility I’d supposedly longed for.”


Next up: The final log III SOMEDAY.