Jumping & Hustling

Rebecca Brown on teaching and paying the bills

Rebecca Brown at Hugo House Jan2016 cropOften someone else’s words describe something so well that the words become a reliable reference point. In pursuing my curiosity about the nature of work, the following passage has done this for me. It appears in “An Interview with Rebecca Brown,” by Alex Davis-Lawrence, which is published in Moss, Volume One.1 After speaking about why and how much she loves it, Rebecca says this about teaching…

And of course it’s paid a lot of my bills. At different times in my writing, I’ve made nice money, but I have not supported myself entirely with writing. So, I don’t teach out of the good of my heart as much as the need of my pocketbook. [laughs] As far as the range of different places where I’ve taught – libraries, prisons, universities, colleges, workshops, Hugo House, living rooms, summer camps – when I first got out of graduate school, I looked for a full-time tenure-track teaching job and I got turned down a million times. But over the long haul, I’m glad I didn’t find one job and then just stick to it forever. I’ve had to kind of keep jumping, hustling, and you get to know different people if you’re out there. I think I have a broad sense of what’s out there, because I haven’t been full time secure in one location or job.

Now I see young friends who are getting full-time tenure jobs pretty early and I’m, like, “watch out.” Like, don’t become someone who gets so secure in a job you kind of stop writing. I think sometimes if you lose the hunger, you kind of, I don’t know…lose the edge or urgency you need to make your work.


1  Moss is an online journal dedicated to bringing Northwest literature to new audiences and exposing the emerging voices of the region to discerning readers, critics, and publishers. It was founded in 2014 and publishes three times annually. Moss, Volume One, put the first three online issues into print, September 2015.


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