Hmm, Not Quite: Carrie Bradshaw's Mythic Unicorn Writing Career
Like many couples, my husband and I enjoy a nice TV binge now and then. Since I was in the throes of raising babies during the heyday of the Sex and the City phenomenon, and with a trip to Dubai (the setting of the third movie) looming on the horizon, we decided to partake of the show just this past year.
Other than the overwrought, stereotypical depiction of the Middle East in that last movie, one of the funniest parts of the show was the complete inaccuracy of main character Carrie’s freelance writing career.
My husband and I shared a good laugh over Carrie’s seemingly posh lifestyle, wondering how she did it with only one or two writing clients/articles under her belt. So, I was excited to read Tracy Dye’s take on the same topic, Carrie’s mythical, unicorn-esque financial existence, over at Bustle.
Except, hmm. A couple things in the Bustle article were a little off for me. So, in the interest of my readers, and unicorns everywhere, I decided to respond to that response. Yes, you should probably go give it a skim first.
Bustle Bullseye: You Cannot Afford Oodles of Real Estate in NYC on Your Own
Look, I have some theories about how Carrie paid for things, but that’s none of my business. I do have to say that writer Dye was right on when she questioned Carrie’s ability to write one article and pay an estimated market-value rent of $1800.
NYC apartment living and costs are ridiculous—that’s common knowledge.
The important point for wanna-be writers here is something I’ve told freelancers over and again: cost of living matters. It was easy for me to make the leap to freelancing because I live in the Midwest, where my good-size Victorian house clocks in under $1000 per month. This is something you’ll have to take under consideration if you’re looking to join the ranks of working writers.
Bustle Bust: “Real Life: It’s Bargain Shopping Or No Shopping At All — There Is No Gray Area Here”
My regular readers know what’s coming next: an admonition that being a freelancer doesn’t, under any circumstances, automatically equate to living in poverty, along with reference to my earnings articles (which are here).
In this point, Tracy Dye lamented about the cost of clothing and whatnot, and I get that. Best I can say is perhaps she’s in the beginning of her career, to which I respond, hang in there. Nope. I’ve had 20K years, and I have years topping over 100K—and that’s not unfairly roping in my husband’s income, either. Your income is what you make of it; there is no HR office in the background capping your salary, and (barring contracts signed) you can always move on to the next-highest bidder when it comes to clientele.
Bustle Bust: All the Food and Drinks
Bustle’s writer notes that Carrie is partaking in an awful lot of food and alcohol for someone who writes one column at maybe $2000 a month. Although this point falls along the same lines of simple finances, as above, there is another piece here. It got me thinking of a funny comment from my 11-year-old: “Mom, how are you a writer, but you go out to bars and restaurants all the time for work?”
It’s true, I am “a writer.” But, a writer is essentially owner and president of a one-man business. And you’ve got to do a lot of schmoozing in any business. As a managing editor for a local magazine, I often accompany my publisher to visit his advertisers- mainly Latino business (free Mexican food-yum!). The magazine also tends to sponsor a fair amount of events, meaning I get trickle-down entrance to fundraisers, new business openings and so on, often at bars and pubs.
I also do a whole heck of a lot of travel, often free or as a write-off, which comes with some food and drink perks. I met an editing client in Dubai. I travelled to DC with non-profit clients.
These things are just part and parcel of running and business, a fact that Carrie perhaps managed to milk to her benefit.
Bustle Bullseye: You Generally Have a Cadre of Clients and Projects
Bustle correctly points out that Carrie’s one-hit wonder column is unrealistic: true story.
Most writers make up their monthly income from a set of established clients, who are supplemented by a rotating cast of one-off projects. And, who would want it any other way? This make up of income lends a security that you can’t have with one lone client (well, unless you had a tight contract, I suppose).
Overall, Bustle’s expose of Carrie-as-Freelance-Writer is an interesting article and a great viewpoint. I definitely encourage you to read and share it.
What do you think of the depiction of Carrie as a writer? Discuss this article or ask me questions at any of my social media outlets: