3. Throwback Thursday: When Ernest Hemingway filed a $187K expense report. Before the writer had achieved ubiquity as everyone's go-to for examples of minimal prose, Hemingway paid his bills as a journalist, and was dispatched by various publications to cover wars across China, Spain, and elsewhere. By the time World War II had ended, Peter Moreira wrote for CJR this week, Hemingway was writing for Collier's, a now-defunct weekly which at the time had a circulation of 2.8 million. The mag had offered Hemingway a contract that offered him $3,000 per 2,500- to 3,500-word article, which per this inflation calculator means he was paid $43,559.32 per piece. (I'll let you sit there with that for a minute.)
While on the job covering the conflict, the then-married Hemingway began a relationship with another woman, was "physically and verbally abusive" to his current wife, and kept filing those lucrative reports from the front lines. Meanwhile, his relationship with Collier's disintegrated over matters like the forwarding of mail and editorial feedback. Then, on August 27, 1945, Hemingway submitted his expense report for his time at the magazine: Three type-written legal-sized sheets that included entries for $680 (that's $9,700 by today's standards) for a car and driver; $1,824 ($26,000) for entertainment expenses; and $220 ($3,100) for "laundry, newspapers and tips." The grand total was $13,436.75, which would be about $187,500 today. After a back-and-forth with his editor, Hemingway reluctantly agreed to $1,000 ($14,000 today) per article, for a total of $6,000 ($84,000).
Friends, the next time you're quibbling with your boss about reimbursement (assuming you get reimbursed for anything these days!) you're welcome to share this report - that's what the little buttons below are for. Just remember, if you want to live like Hemingway, you gotta write like Hemingway...and if you want to get paid like Hemingway, these days you might want to choose another line of work.