it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

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First you decide what you've gotta do.

And then you go out and do it.

Well, the comments on the introduce-yourself post have indicated that there are a lot of aspiring writers out there. Writers have a lot of different goals, a lot of different metrics for success. Some people want to sell a book. Some people want to write just one perfect story, heartbreaking. Some people want to tell stories to an eager, loyal group of friends.

If I could give all of them one anecdotal piece of advice, and only one, it would be this:


And don't stop pushing, neither, except when you need a breath.

I spent fifteen years trying to talk myself out of being a writer, first by telling myself that he odds against were astronomical and that I needed a real job, and then by "trying," while cleverly finding ways to undermine myself so that my failures could be chalked up to "just not being talented enough no matter how hard I work," because (a) success is scary as shit and (b) what's even scarier than success is the prospect of really doing your best, really trying your hardest--and actually having to face an abject failure.

Nobody wants to be Rocky Balboa. At least Sonny Liston got to go to his grave telling his friends he could have taken Cassius Clay if he'd cared to take a swing.

But if you don't swing with all you've got, there's no way you can win.

This is a hard job. It's an exhausting job. It's an ego-crushing job. Rejection is hard. Criticism is harder.

But it's also the best job in the world.

Head down. Heels down. Get your weight behind that yoke and push. Push. Push!

If you're not bleeding, you're not pulling hard enough.

There's a trick there, of course, because that all-out effort has to be directed. So you have to have picked your goal. The publication, the perfect story, the Pulitzer prize.

Pick your pitch. Point over the boards. And swing for the goddamned fences.

But also remember, sometimes you can pull harder if you let the lines go slack for a bit and catch your breath before you throw your weight on it again. ;-)

By the way, my novella "Wax," has been selected for Rich Horton/Prime Book's inaugural Year's Best Fantasy.
Tags: delivered wisdom

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