There was a wonderful drama about the Brontes on over Christmas. (To Walk Invisible, by the excellent Sally Wainwright)

One of the ways it differed from previous Bronte stories I’ve seen or read is that Charlotte was ambitious. All the sisters tell stories, but have no burning desire to share them with the world. But as Branwell fails again and again, they realise if they want to survive, they have to earn their own living, and being a governess just isn’t enough.

Ambition is seen as an awful thing for a writer, especially a female writer, and wanting to earn money from it is sniffed at. Look at the furore over literary festivals where is paid a fee except writers. Asking for money for art is seen as grubby.

Yet all we want is to be paid to do the work. Of course, we love to write, but it would be wonderful if writing didn’t come at the cost of being able to eat, or have a roof over our heads. I currently have to work to earn enough to live on, but a daily job means far less time for writing, and the massive amount of research my books take.

I don’t think we should be ashamed of asking for money for our work. Every other job earns money, after all. It’s not necessary to starve in an attic or work all day at a job you hate to be a good writer. I don’t think we should be ashamed of publishing ourselves, or being ambitious, or of wanting to earn more.

I think others should be ashamed of asking us to pour our heart and soul and secrets and experiences and fears and joys onto paper and yet give us nothing in return

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad


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