How to Succeed at Writing inside the Upper Middle Class

Be a writer. Opportunities exist. You will be rewarded.

Youth is important at first, especially when you are young. Those ambitions will serve you well in college. Your precocity-especially if you are a man-gives you a natural base for success at writing. Precocious ideas become an extension of maleness. But DON’T WORRY-even when you get older, being older becomes important.

Move to different cities. Experience them. Only go to the Midwest, however, if you go to school there or are invited to speak. And then get out as fast as you can. Use acronyms like “LES” in your biographical statements.

Go to conferences. You will be invited. Others will have to pay-and they have the money to pay, and even though you have the money to pay too, it will be better for you. Confer with others. There is a restaurant inside the hotel. Often there is more than one restaurant inside the hotel. There is a health club. If you write, they will pay. You will go places. You will go to other countries. Trans-nationalism is the world’s greatest gift to you. You will talk about your writing. There will be a reception. You will stand and talk.

Perhaps you will even write about your travels. This can make its appearance in your next book. Always look ahead.

You can always change the names.

Eventually people will listen to what you have to say. Eventually people who have written less than you and published less will ask favors of you. Assess these judiciously. Consider “favor” as a limited natural resource, like zinc or tungsten. Extract it carefully. But appear humble about it! And never forget the balance of accounts. One of the best ways to exchange favor is to teach. The students will come and go. But it’s the conferences themselves that remain, year after year, as your closest compatriots. Flirt. Exchange promises. Drink. As the years pass it almost appears like the same gin and tonic is in your hands, an everlasting cup. Everyone is getting younger, and soon it’s time to go to bed.

And when you die, you can know that you have succeeded. You will have the material to prove it: a few chapbooks, a couple of out-of-print books from defunct presses, the author copies still in an unsealed box in your garage, preserved like an Egyptian tomb.

One thought on “How to Succeed at Writing inside the Upper Middle Class

  1. Harv

    Wow. Alan, you are describing a form of “success” that I can only dream of.

    Why I’m going with PLAN B:
    Fame and Success after I’m dead.



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