Michael Lewis: A Fluky Start

Michael Lewis is one of the best non-fiction writers of his time. He is responsible for books like The Blind Side, Moneyball, and several other non-fiction works set in the recession starting in 2007. Lewis attended school at Princeton where he studied art history–not necessarily one would expect from a business non-fiction writer. Regardless, Lewis has come to earn a reputation as one of the most well respected authors. How does an art history student find the motivation to become a powerful non-fiction writer? According to Lewis himself, he had a very intellectual and gripping experience while working on his thesis during his senior year at Princeton. He was very passionate about the work he had done on his thesis. Unfortunately his adviser had only the following to say,“I’ll put it this way: don’t try to make a living at it.” Despite his advisers opinion, Lewis would end up making a great living out of it. In fact, Lewis quit his job on Wall Street to pursue a book advance that was worth only a fraction of his currently salary. Lewis admits it was a “dumb mistake” at the time economically, but ultimately it turned out to be a blessing. Lewis’ first book, Liar’s Poker, instantly sold over a million copies. Lewis explains that he couldn’t see himself doing any other work, he simply had to write. What started as a thesis with poor reviews eventually blossomed into a wildly successful career producing arguably the most respected non-fiction author of our time.

Maran, Meredith. Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do. New York: Plume, 2013. Print


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