Writers with Day Jobs

I’m finally reading J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; I couldn’t stay with Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life any longer as I eyed Rowling’s latest masterpiece scrupulously begging to be read. I’m slowly working my way through Yanagihara’s 800-page tome, but a few calculations here and there made me realize that I would need at least another 12 days to finish the book. I had to put the book down.

I dove right into the Rowling’s eighth book after nineteen years. The script format takes a little getting used to, but the story carries on. I still remember reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when I was in elementary, awash in wonder and curiosity. Although I’m only on page 30, I have a renewed sense of giddiness and excitement.

In a The New Yorker article, contributor Jia Tolentino writes:

Without set decoration, it cleanly shows the moral imagination of the “Harry Potter” universe, in which goodness is circumstantial and endings are never guaranteed.

Finally,  a New Harry Potter Story Worth ReadingThe New Yorker

From the series “Day Job” by Natalya Balnova

I came across Natalya Balnova series called “Day Job” which featured illustrations like the one above (more here). And then there’s this wonderful piece on ten writers who quit their day jobs: Arundhati Roy, Toni Morrison, John Green. As a writer and (a community organizer) with a day job (although my schedule also calls for night time flexibility), looking at these illustrations, reading the article give me infinite hope.

There were some sentiments that I echoed with from Virginia Woolf’s book A Room of One’s Own wherein she specified the types of conditions women needed to have in order to write. I think what she failed to say, beyond the material conditions she specified (400 pounds a year and one’s own room), is the kind of mental, social and psychological space women needed in order to write.

These days, when I hear of writers and that kind of luxurious space, I can’t help but think that what I’m wishing for is too bougie.

From the series “Day Job” by Natalya Balnova

Class privilege has always been something I try to be aware of, although a lot of working-class writers have made it work. Perhaps creating that space does not even require leaving your day job, specially if it sustains your physiological needs.

While I’m in no position to leave my day job at the moment, what is important though is this: always make time for your writing.


A Queer and Brown Reading of Virginia Woolf


A friend once chided me that for the amount of time I spend reading, it’s a shame that I didn’t know much about classics. So there I was, struggling with Virginia Woolf, trying hard to connect to the text.

And then I got to this portion:

A very queer, composite being thus emerges. Imaginatively she is of the highest importance; practically she is completely insignificant. She pervades poetry from cover to cover; she is all but absent from history. She dominates the lives of kings and conquerors in fiction; in fact she was the slave of any boy whose parents forced a ring upon her finger. Some of the most inspired words, some of the most profound thoughts in literature fall from her lips, in real life she could hardly read, could scarcely spell, and was the property of her husband.

I was halfway through reading A Room of One’s Own, past details of elaborate lunches and other minutiae I didn’t bother remembering, when I felt like Woolf was actually onto something.

The “queer, composite being” she writes about is of the utmost interest to me, as a woman myself. And a queer one at that. While I agree with her thoughts on women, on their relegation as inferior to men, there’s a lot that’s still missing for me. This ain’t my feminist canon.

To be clear, what she points out as women’s inability to write (specifically fiction) stems from lack of money and space. Had women inherited lump sums of money from their ancestors (500 pounds to be exact), they would’ve been able to acquire a writing room all their own, with enough money to get by and sustain themselves.

I suddenly had flashbacks: of times when I wrote at a laundromat off of Alum Rock in San Jose while waiting for loads of laundry, of writing in anger inside a friend’s old car when I ran away from home, by the stairs of an old apartment in Brisbane that I unofficially shared with what seems like ten other people. Continue reading “A Queer and Brown Reading of Virginia Woolf”