Article: “How The Literary Class System Is Impoverishing Literature”

Lorraine Berry ambersands creative amber sands LitHub literature talent jobs publishing industry

This article - one of LitHub’s ten most-read articles in 2015 – may be even more personal for me than some of the essays that I have written about events in my life. In the summer of 2015, I began thinking about how so many of my students, even the ones with genuine talent, would never be able to get jobs in the publishing industry because they had never been able to afford to spend a summer living in New York City working as an unpaid intern. I also thought a lot about my family, who, are part of the middle class more by matters too complicated to state here.

I wrote the article, not really expecting much. To my surprise, the article went viral, and as the tweets to me and the comments telling me that I had spoken their story came in, I realized I had struck a nerve that I thought belonged only to me.

It's one of the reasons that I believe in the power of writing. In the huge world that we inhabit, I still believe that the power of words can change the world.

Read the full article here.

Reader reactions:

"Thanks for writing it. This is one of the better pieces I've read on here. And I can't tell you how many times I've been irritated by the cliche of the struggling artist on TV and in film who inexplicably lives in the enormous downtown loft."

"Yes, yes, A THOUSAND TIMES YES. I've always felt like a chump for wondering where famous writers got money to subsist before their fame, and kept hoping it really was just cheaper to exist in previous decades (I often had these thoughts when thinking about Sontag, Gore Vidal, etc.). I think you hit the nail on the head..."

"This RESONATES with me, big time. I'm so glad you wrote this essay!"

"This is a very thought provoking article for me. I'm a young black woman, I come from a lower-middle class upbringing and I want to be in the children's publishing industry. Thanks very much for sharing."