I only make bad selfish decisions
I only make bad unselfish decisions
Why should I let myself decide anything?
Anonymous said: what's your favorite sex position
lying in your front yard pointing out all the trees you used to climb when you were a kid
Anonymous said: do you have any advice for a young person who wants to make writing her day job?
Make writing your day job. Write at your best for as long as you can from morning until later, when it’s time to make a little more money. Waitress, bartend, strip, copy-edit, copywrite, anything you can do later in the day without using much of your brain, that’s what you should probably do for work. As for writing, do it for love over money, but always ask for money anyway; do it for experience before exposure, and not too much exposure at once. Write things that get you paid well and make your writing better and understand that both don’t tend to happen simultaneously. ((I still & will always write for free or like a dollar because I want the experience of doing something weird or challenging or remotely unconventional, or because I want to support a friend’s project, or because I want someone I admire or adore to edit it. I also edit things for friends gratis. I’m also doing this for free. Everything I do for The New Inquiry is entirely uncompensated. And, of course, Adult costs me money, and doesn’t make us anything yet.
In sum: I do enough free labour to kill a drone. I do it partly because I have to (for myself), partly because I want to (for myself and for others), partly because I can. My ability to not have a regular job with a salary is contingent on my commanding high rates from bigger/richer magazines, doing commercial work or copywriting or consulting or whatever, occasionally taking an hour to write a rich kid’s college application, and using a credit card to fill in the gaps; also, on Jesse having a regular job with a salary and benefits, without which I couldn’t take the pills that keep me this stupidly productive.))
A life sustained by only the kind of writing you actually, really want to do is a life within reach of >one per cent of all good writers in America. Don’t make a living your dream. Don’t be too precious; be stubborn and sensitive, but also, have a few skins. At first, say yes to everything. Say yes before you start saying no. Take risks, try it all on—voices, styles, structures—before ruling it out. Style is a set of rules, better bent/invented than inherited, better established over time. Don’t copy what is already acclaimed. If you’re stuck, read a diary, not an essay. Read all the time as widely as possible; read everything except gossip; read everything except advice to writers (I mean it—if you’ve already stopped reading this, I’m with you).
Try to not think about how your writing makes you look. Try also to not look around. There are whole city blocks of well-bred, workmanlike, totally fine writers who’ve never written anything bad and who have, in consequence, chosen to be of very little, mattering mostly to people exactly like themselves, settling for widespread forgettability along with the guarantee of never being embarrassed. Be embarrassed. Be more afraid of doing wrong than being incorrect. Or, be more afraid of causing harm to others than of hurting your own reputation. Do not write about others until you know how to write about yourself, where to probe a limit, and when to stop.
Say no when you’ve practiced, and when you realize that if you don’t act like you’re too good for the unideal, you never will be (is all advice just memoir in the second person).
Read more than you write. Go outside just to listen to people.
Believe that one email from a teenage girl in Nebraska about something you’ve written is more important than two thousand dollars and a dozen tweets from New York City writers under 30. You can’t (I can’t) live on emails from teenage girls alone, but you can (I do) live for them.
At the same time, you have to survive, and since survival is at odds with really living, you will sometimes feel like you spend all your time commuting between the two. I don’t know what to say about that. Seek out secret successes, I guess.
Don’t care what I think.
Keep going. x