Josh Axelrad: Losing My Book Advance Taught Me to Write:
I was given a large book advance in 2005. This didn't sit well with me. It wasn't writerly, I felt, simply to be handed money without having struggled. My reaction was to gamble for about a year.
Gambling was my shtick anyhow. Before Penguin cut me the check--it was for 85 G's, a big and disreputable figure (and that was only the initial installment, payable at the signing of the contract; more would come when I delivered a manuscript the next year)--I'd counted cards for a living. I won money from casinos playing blackjack. With a team of skilled friends I spent five years roaming the country, from Vegas to Reno, from New Orleans to Biloxi to the hellfire of Northern Indiana, through tribal reservations in Kansas, earning decent income and getting barred from over 100 casinos in 15 states.