Struggling to Be a Writer in Ireland

February 11, 2015 § 9 Comments


Sara Baume

Here in America, we don’t value our artists, but in Europe, the situation is so much better, because in France, in Ireland, throughout the continent, there is a deep respect for culture and literature. Right?  Nice fantasy, but it seems to be equally hard on both sides of the pond.  Listen to Sara Baume, winner of Ireland’s 2014 Davy Byrne’s Short Story award:

Recently, on more than one occasion, I’ve met people who seem to think that, because I won a lucrative award, because I’m about to have a book published, this means I’m doing well financially. In fact I still live in a flat without central heating; I still have a 1998 licence plate, I still drive to my parents’ house every Sunday to squash a bag of rubbish into their wheelie bin.

Last summer I won €15,000, a massive sum by everyone’s standards, but as anybody trying to pursue a career in the arts will tell you, it isn’t going to be spent on continental holidays and cutting-edge gadgetry, or central heating for that matter, or bin charges. Every cent goes back into funding new projects, or towards freeing up the time in which to realise them. So long as I’m thrifty, my prize fund can be eked out for the best part of two years of rent, groceries and petrol. Even though I know I desperately need to buy a new laptop, a new phone, a new car; I haven’t the courage to spend a lump sum on any of these things because I’m afraid I’ll soon find that I need the money just for living, and my utmost priority is sustaining a daily existence in which I can write and make, the only things which matter to me, which provide any sense of accomplishment, which have any meaning.

This news from Ireland dialogues nicely with the recent posts here and elsewhere by Michael Nye, Ann Bauer, Brevity‘s Social Media Editor Allison Williams, and Brevity‘s Managing Editor Kelly Sundberg on how writers are supported/support themselves.

The full article on Sara Baume in The Irish Times can be read here.

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