That’s what it’s come to for me in my writing career and so I have to find an answer for that. It’ll take a leap of faith, but I’m a jumper.
When I came to Prague from Chicago in 1993 I was 57 years old, had $10,000 in my pocket that I’d cleared from selling my car, a little Apple computer and the willingness to fail as a writer. I’d always wanted to write and live in Europe.
Prague was cheap in those days, lovely and smoky and down-at-the-heels. Vaclav Havel was president. It was a European mecca for writers, so I came, leaving my profession as a landscape architect behind, knowing no one and not speaking the language. My life-motto had been (and still is) to mentor leaps of faith and I’d done that for a number of friends. Now it was time for me to take my own advice and leap. Leaps of faith are empowered by the willingness to fail, pick oneself up and keep on moving.
The move to Prague has been and still is an incredible experience for me. Writing came easily and I found I was good at it—a disaster at marketing my books, but a good writer. I know it’s more romantic to call it an endless struggle for truth and an existential need powered by cigarettes and booze, but that’s never been my case. In the nearly thirty years I’ve been here, I’ve written three novels, two non-fiction books, three volumes of poetry and nearly 1,700 essays. But, as my writer friends in Chicago advised, “never give up your day job.”
I stretched out my ten grand by answering the night-phones at a Prague law firm and picking up small editing jobs, a little help from my brother and then social security. But the pandemic, decline of the dollar, inflation and Prague becoming one of Europe’s more expensive cities keeps chipping away at my $1,500 social security check. There is just too much month left at the end of the money.
So here I am, going back into business at age 86, monetizing my Wake-up Call articles on Substack, a writer’s site built to extend readership and generate income. Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi are a couple of journalists you might recognize who write here and, along with them, my Wake-up Call now has a ‘paid subscriber’ button. You can support my work for seven bucks a month. Hey, that’s the cost of a large Starbucks coffee and a croissant on the side.
My initial goal is 100 subscribers, which would increase my income by a third and make my month a bit more livable. Then 200? Possibly 300? Why not? Leaps of faith usually accomplish great things.
And please remember, as I guaranteed when you were each kind enough to move with me to Substack, my writing will always be available to you for free. But now there’s an option. I never said there wouldn’t be an option.
And knowing I’ve gotta have a reason beyond your charitable instincts to sign on as paid subscribers, you’ll get my writing by podcast as well as print. My thoughts in your in-box, fifteen or twenty times a month, delivered in my own dulcet tones, available to listen to on a commute or an idle moment, if anyone has those any more. Then there’s knowing you’re a patron—a thousand-year tradition—personally keeping another writer afloat, banging away on his keyboard.
I wrote one time that “We all exist in dreams and live the actual. It’s the actual we can’t get over, the dreams never stop.” That has never been more true.
So, meet me for coffee and a croissant? Hit the Subscribe button below if you can and if you can’t, I’m perfectly okay with that as well.
Cheers and love and wonderment from Prague…