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Poverty and literature have always been emaciated bedfellows. The trouble writing spawns can take the form of anything from wasted years with miserable, underpaid day jobs to fatal doses of hubris and sleep deprivation. Perversely, real misery is often thought to be an integral rite of passage for serious artists, which can be a lethal misconception. If it’s any good it must be suffered for, or so the fable goes. Here’s Melville at sea, Rimbaud the vagabond, Kafka the clerk, Joyce the cheat, Faulkner the postman, Bolaño the drifter. All of them illustrious masculine myths: the stories certain writers tell themselves when they doubt the mundane sacrifices they choose to inflict upon themselves.

The digital realm has certainly complicated the ritual of this self-infliction. A recent article in the Guardian highlights the dwindling advances paid by publishers struggling in the ebook era with a predictable gasp of apocalypticism. Meanwhile…

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