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WYPR Arts

Seattle's Low-Wage Writers

Stephen McCandless, left, and Bret Fetzer are collaborating on a play based on McCandless' experiences as an emergency medical technician.
Noah Adams, NPR /
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Stephen McCandless, left, and Bret Fetzer are collaborating on a play based on McCandless' experiences as an emergency medical technician.
The Richard Hugo House is a community writer's center named for the late Seattle-born poet.
Noah Adams, NPR /
/
The Richard Hugo House is a community writer's center named for the late Seattle-born poet.

It's tough making a living as a writer. NPR's Noah Adams continues his series on low-wage jobs with a look at writers in Seattle who can only dream of quitting their day job to dedicate themselves to their art.

Adams visits the Richard Hugo House, a writers' community center named in honor of the late poet, a Seattle native.

It is there that spoken-word artist Iese Ionatana holds an afternoon workshop. Ionatana, who works 30 hours a week as an education counselor at a boys' and girls' club, hopes to challenge his young students to use their words to speak out and change the world.

The center also has a theater, where Adams finds Stephen McCandless, a former Microsoft employee, and Bret Fetzer, a playwright and director, are working on a play based on McCandless' experiences as a $9-per-hour emergency medical technician.

And on the bleachers of a baseball field across the street from the Hugo House, Adams speaks with Sarah-Katherine Lewis, a self-described sex worker who writes an online journal. She reads an essay she has written about kissing. Lewis, 32, says she hopes to make enough money to earn a living as a writer by the time she's too old to be a sex worker.

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