Wednesday, July 04, 2012

"Be relentless"

FSG recently posted an article by Sarah Manguso "How to Have a Career: Advice to Young Writers."  

I definitely like the relentless part ("Work".) And I really REALLY like the part about pretending not to know who the ad hominem attacker is (Enemies.)

What do you think?


Sam said...

This sentence was my favorite:

You may believe your messy life supplies material, but it in fact distracts you from understanding that material, and until you understand it, it is useless to you.

That's true of all experience, but psychological turbulence is especially disruptive. If you can't avoid all messy and needy people, then "It may be worth paying for psychotherapy sessions now instead of paying for inpatient treatment next year; see someone in-network," is a prerequisite for writing about it well.

Unknown said...

Good advice for all writers.

Two good outfits. That's a tough one.

Sheila JG said...

Lots of good tips, but I'm glad you don't take all her advice to heart - especially this: "Don't give favors to people or institutions that lack authority or consequence." You never know where one good turn will lead you.

And i don't agree about avoiding messy and needy people. I have three messy people in my life that make life worth living, and I don't mind cleaning up.

Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

Since I am one of the messiest people in my life, and I haven't learned how to avoid myself, I'll have a hard time following that bit of advice. That being said, I do my best to follow most of the rest.

I especially try to be nice and present myself with dignity. I think it works for the most part, unless I'm having a particularly messy day. But I do try.

Bill Plante said...

Janet Reid, still the best bird-dog around.

Anne-Marie said...

Lots of great advice there, but I must respectfully disagree with not doing favours for people who lack authority or consequence, as it contradicts the idea of kindness in certain cases.

I'm especially with her on the removal of messy people- it is sometimes easier to observe behaviours from a slight distance, and I prefer my drama between the pages.

Thanks for the great read, Janet.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Onward:...Don’t expend energy in writing and publishing that would be better used in your family or community. Become tempered by life. Make compromises for love. Provide a service to the world.

This my dear is what makes a decent human being who 'happens' to be a writer.

delilah s. dawson said...

Knowing nothing of the author, I can tell you three things:
1. She doesn't write genre.
2. She doesn't have small children.
3. She vastly underestimates how much fun it is to appear publicly in ridiculous costumes.

dylan said...

Dear Ms Reid

All of this advice is likely sound, sincere, and valuable (unfortunately, I wouldn't know).

Pardon my Independence Day substance-mitigated smartassiance, but this is what it brought to my mind:

1 point extra credit for spotting the spelling error.


The Writer Librarian said...

A beautiful post, with great advice. The biggest impact for me was the part about getting rid of messy people. A helpful reminder on how important boundaries are to maintaining good work.

Fanfreakingtastic Flower said...

There's an old SNL skit with Mike Meyers and Nicole Kidman called Phillip. When I read the article it made me think of Nicole's character saying, "I'm a robot, I'm a robot, I'm talkin' like a robot."

It's not that it isn't good advice, technically speaking, but how exhausting to construct such a rigid box and then proceed to live in it.

BTW - that SNL skit is always worth a watch. I love the line, "Wow. You're surrounded by a lot of positive support." It comes in handy more often than you'd think. Also, "You're conceited."