Kike FerrariHere’s a very telling insight into the realities of writing income. Agence France Presse has released a newswire profile of Enrique Ferrari, a.k.a. Kike, a prize-winning Argentinian crime writer, published in several countries, who keeps up his day job to make ends meet – as a subway station cleaner. “Live off writing? The money isn’t good enough,” he said to AFP.

Ferrari scores four stars out of five on Goodreads (in Spanish) for his “black and brutal” writing. He has five novels in print, as well as two collections of short stories and a volume of essays – most of them composed during breaks from his work, according to AFP. He complains in the profile of the snobbery of a literary elite who associate writing only with the middle classes. “I understand that people find it surprising, but I am not a strange creature. There are lots of we laborers who write, paint or play music,” he says. “It is a peculiarity of capitalists and the bourgeoisie to think that we workers have no culture.”

Ferrari holds down his cleaning job at the Pasteur-AMIA station on Line B of the Buenos Aires Underground. I’m not clear from his Spanish Wikipedia profile whether Ferrari is truly dependent on his cleaning job. This lists him as a member of the editorial board of the Argentinian review La Granada, though that also appears to be a left-wing cultural publication which may not be able to offer much of an income. He’s also listed as a contributor to various Argentinian, Mexican, Cuban, and Spanish magazines, including the magazine of the union of Buenos Aires subway workers. The profile does list him as frequently placed and a finalist in quite a number of crime fiction prizes, both Spanish and French.

Maybe Ferrari does hold down his day job for personal reasons, not financial ones. But I still reckon it’s very likely that his situation reflects the realities of a writing income – or the caprices of publishing – even in a popular genre like crime, and with the popularity of cross-border crime fiction in translation post the success of Stieg Larsson‘s Millennium trilogy. Hopefully, that whole trend – and his eye-catching life story – will lift Ferrari into the big time.



  1. Money isn’t the only reason to hold down a non-writing job. In Seattle I juggled three PT jobs, all of which had me interacting with people. It provided a good balance to writing alone. And writing in the day left me so tired mentally, that evening work didn’t take away from my writing pace.

    I also loved working in a public venue where you need to think quickly to say just the right thing. That builds confidence. I’d always thought I was mostly introvert. I discovered that, in a flash, I could switch into a take-charge, extrovert mode and maintain that for hours, supervising a long line at an art museum without tiring. That was an interesting discovery.

    Those benefits of outside work apply whatever writing you do, although interacting with people will help even more if you write fiction. Watch people, listen to them, and learn.

  2. I gave up my day job over 35 years ago when I was fired from my Engineering position for taking two months of unapproved vacation. My getting fired was the best thing that ever happened to me. I haven’t had a regular job since then. The following words of wisdom resonate with me big time and have helped me get to the point where I worked only about a half a day last year and still wound up with a better income than 97 percent of corporate workers.

    “The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.”
    — Fred Wilson

    “It’s better to have a short life doing what you like doing than a long life doing what you don’t like doing.”
    — Alan Watts

    “The worst days of those who enjoy what they do, are better than the best days of those who don’t.”
    — E. James Rohn

    “No organization — government or otherwise — can take great care of you. Organizations aren’t capable of this — only you are!”
    — from “Life’s Secret Handbook”

    “If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all.”
    — Anna Quindlan

    “Getting a job and trading your time for money may seem like a good idea. There’s only one problem with it. It’s stupid! It’s the stupidest way you can possibly generate income! This is truly income for dummies. Why is getting a job so dumb? Because you only get paid when you’re working.”
    — Steve Pavlina

    “The fastest way to succeed is to look as if you’re playing by somebody else’s rules, while quietly playing by your own.”
    — Michael Korda

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