If you’re a writer, you have to work on your craft. You have to learn the mechanics. You have to study language and dialogue. You have to read other people’s work – both the classics and the contemporaries. You have to develop what Dean Young calls a “critical sensibility” that guides how you read and write.
Reading has always played a large role in my life, but the first book I recall infiltrating daily life was Where the Red Fern Grows. My mom spent a summer reading the book to my brothers and me. We wept when we learned the fate of Big Dan and Little Anne.
If you’re a perfectionist – if you live with the reality of perfectionism long enough – you’ll realize the only way to win against perfectionism is never to surrender to it. If you surrender to it, you’ll accomplish little, if anything, but, if you fight it every single day, you just might make something. No, it might not be anything good, grand, or perfect, but it will be something, and it could be the very something that someone else needs.
“Averse” and “adverse” actually mean the same thing. They both are words that mean “opposed” or “hostile.” The two words, however, can’t be used interchangeably because they are meant for different purposes.
Unless you absolutely, positively know what you’re meant to do at the age of five, you’ll find yourself on a meandering course. You may have a general sense of direction, but you probably won’t be sure of the way to get to your final destination. You’ll think about things like internships and entry-level positions, some of which will get you closer to where you’re trying to get and some of which will lead to dead-ends and course corrections.
One of the final steps in preparing your work to be published is having it copy edited, which is to say that there are other steps. For example, your work needs to be revised. It needs to be read by beta readers, preferably ones who read critically. It needs to be read by an editor who will provide structural feedback.* It will then need to be revised according to the feedback and reception received. Then and only then is it ready to be hacked to pieces by the copy editor.
Now that I work from home, an almost inevitable question arises: do I laze around in my pajamas all day? The answer is a resounding “no.” While I sometimes do get distracted by work mid-breakfast and end up working while still ensconced in pajamas (or workout clothes if the morning included a run and workout), my normal routine is to dress as though I’m heading into an actual office with a mostly casual dress code.
But I know now there’s one thing you’ve all overlooked: intelligence and education that hasn’t been tempered by human affection isn’t worth a damn…Intelligence is one of the greatest human gifts. But all too often a search for knowledge drives out the search for love.
- Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon