If you want to write for a living, you will lose friends and lovers. The chance you will be rich and famous is miniscule. It is hard work and it feels like you are always splaying your innards out for the world to see. Write anyway.
You can write the story, you can not write the story - people will have a problem either way. They will say, “You don’t write for the right people” or “You can/should do better” or “You don’t write enough” or “You write too much.” Remember: The people doing all that talking? They’re not writing. Writers write. Talkers talk. You should let them.
Take what is useful and leave the rest. Always. Most writers I know and admire say they try to take both praise and criticism as the ephemeral feedback they can be.
The most effective, enduring tool in your writer’s toolbox is discipline.
Writers who don’t like to read are typically bad writers. Reading gives you a wealth of life and experience that you don’t have time to experience firsthand, and it both deepens and expands your work at the same time.
Call yourself whatever you want: journalist, writer, blogger, content creator. Labels are really only useful for food. What really matters: Courage, humility and endurance.
People who procrastinate believe they have time. The wise among us know that we are always working against the clock.
Procrastination is a good mask for things we’d rather not admit to ourselves. But excuses, delays, refusal to submit to journals, to apply for grants, residencies or scholarships - these are self-sabotage. I read somewhere that professional writers should view submission as a business. This is why, at any given time, I have three calendars in rotation to keep track of deadlines.
You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. (Wayne Gretzky)
Do what you need to do to get your work out there if you really want to be published. No one is coming to do it for you. There are a ton of people who are threatened by the combination of hard work, talent and good timing.
When you don’t put your work into the world, they win.
Do or do not, the Jedi Master says. There is no try.
I need this. All of it.
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
Looking at the title of this book and its cover, it’s quite easy to ask “What the hell is this about?”
Esch Batiste lives off the Gulf Coast in Bois Savage, Mississippi, the only girl in a family full of men, which include an alcoholic father and three brothers. They are poor, living in the back woods. She is pregnant at 14 years old. And Hurricane Katrina is 10 days away.
Each chapter is a day in the life of Esch leading up to the hurricane. She is a tomboy with no feminine guidance, fascinated with Greek mythology, eager to please almost every boy who shows her any little bit of attention. There are also her brothers: Randall, the rising basketball star; Skeetah, who loves his dog China more than anything in the world; and Junior, the youngest, who gets on everyone’s nerves but is also their child, raised by them since their mother has passed.
This story may seem like it is about survival during one of the most damaging storms in US history, but it is really about a storm of a family that is grappling to grow up and get by amid poverty, violence, and the gaping hole left open by their dead mother and a father distant, angry, and most of the time, drunk.
Though Ward won the National Book Award for this, her second novel, I still was not prepared for how much I’d fall in love with this beautifully written, sad, survival story. I loved every single bit of it. It is my favorite novel of this year by far, and Ms. Ward has been added to my “Writers I Want To Be Like When I Grow Up” list. Junot Diaz was recently quoted claiming Ward “a beast” when it comes to this writing thing. He was not lying.
I would recommend this story to everyone, especially those who enjoy literary fiction and Southern literarture.