When I was a child, I thought overnight camps were for kids whose parents didn’t love them. It didn’t help that my dad, an immigrant from India, had never heard of such a preposterous thing. (He also though a sleepover at someone else’s house — as in, a slumber party — was ridiculous, even immoral. “Why,” he would ask, in his thick accent, “would you want to go sleep at a friend’s house when you have a perfectly fine bed here?”
My 8-year old suddenly wants to go to overnight camp this summer. I’m not even sure how she heard about overnight camp. We’re saying “no” this time around. She’s just a little too immature. But this has me wondering — When is a good age for overnight camp? I’m talking about a camp that’s 1-2 weeks long. Did you do it? If so, how old were you when you went. Did you like it?
I have taught in MFA programs for many years now, and I begin my first class of each semester by looking around the workshop table at my students’ eager faces and then telling them they are pursuing a degree that will entitle them to nothing. I don’t do this to be sadistic or because I want to be an unpopular professor; I tell them this because it’s the truth. They are embarking on a life in which apprenticeship doesn’t mean a cushy summer internship in an air-conditioned office but rather a solitary, poverty-inducing, soul-scorching voyage whose destination is unknown and unknowable.
If they were enrolled in medical school, in all likelihood they would wind up doctors. If in law school, better than even odds, they’d become lawyers. But writing school guarantees them little other than debt.
I don’t ever want to go back to practicing law. I want to write. But the $100 check I received in the mail on Saturday, from an essay I had published back in 2008 (late, because of financial woes) is likely the only money I’ll make all year.
And then there’s this section of the article, which really depressed me:
But in the last several years, I’ve watched friends and colleagues suddenly find themselves without publishers after having brought out many books. Writers now use words like “track” and “mid-list” and “brand” and “platform.” They tweet and blog and make Facebook friends in the time they used to spend writing. Authors who stumble can find themselves quickly in dire straits. How, under these conditions, can a writer take the risks required to create something original and resonant and true?
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there’s some truth to this post by Nathan Bransford.
Maybe my timing is perfect after all?