A big part of what most of us do day to day is write. We write emails, and memos and in my case blog posts about books that are about the business of writing. If you can take the leap to think about yourself as a writer, then Scratch is a book about the business of writing without all the “cabin in the woods alone with a coffee” glamour that we may graft onto a writers day.
The book is broken up into three different sections, that didn’t seem like any meaningful distinction as I read it. In theory the essays talk about the early days of a writing career, then what the daily grind is like. In the final section, titled Someday, it’s geared towards success?
We won’t bother tackling the book according to the sections provided I’ll just pull out some interesting points.
One of the first points I resonated with was the purchasing of books even when it’s not the best financial decision[^1]. I purchase at least 4 or 5 books a month, more than I could ever read. I absolutely have walked into my local bookstore intending to purchase nothing and come out with $800 worth of books I just couldn’t pass up. That’s how you get all the excellent book reviews, my unable to pass it up purchasing of books habit.
Another great point applies to anyone doing any type of work. Don’t value the “dream” to the exclusion of paying the bills[^2]. I’ve moved to a point where the only place I write for free is for me. The funniest part of that is all the sites that “support creatives” I’ve talked to that want to write for creatives but not pay the creatives they purport to support.
For anyone with a life that isn’t supported by money you have to earn, Scratch reminds us that looking at the constraints of kids, jobs, time and lamenting those is likely just you pinning after some ideal life that doesn’t exist[^4]. Reading [Shorter](https://curtismchale.ca/2020/05/01/shorter-by-alex-soojung-kim-pang) will disabuse you of the idea that constraints aren’t a good thing.
The final point I’ll highlight is that most of the creatives you admire as having the ideal life actually have another job that earns their income[^3]. Maybe they have a spouse that pays most of the bills. Very few writers get to retreat and write without distractions.
## Should You Read Scratch?
While I did enjoy many of the essays on the writing life, I’m not sure that I’d recommend it for general reading. If you’re a writer, or a freelancer in any field, then yes there are some great points to be made about the business of writing. They points are not constrained to application only for writers.
So, it’s a decent book but doesn’t knock it out of the park for me. In fact, maybe you should read [Real Artists Don’t Starve](https://curtismchale.ca/2018/11/15/the-debunked-myth-of-the-starving-artist/) instead.
Purchase Scratch: [Independent Bookstore](https://bookshop.org/a/11916/9781501134579) | [Amazon](https://amzn.to/2MFjnkw)
[^1]: Page 9
[^2]: Page 11
[^3]: Page 214
[^4]: Page 134