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Friday, June 29, 2012

If You Read Anything Today, Read This

If you read anything today, read this. The Farrar, Struus, and Giroux blog Work in Progress has published poet and author Sarah Manguso's "How to Have a Career: Advice to Young Writers." Young or not, all writers who are trying to achieve some sort of success (however you measure it, and this articles suggests a way to measure it) should consider these highly practical, very specific pieces of advice. This is not another "Read as much as can" kind of advice. This is how to make your life's work your life and still be able to eat.

Includes such gems as:

-Be relentless. All over the world, people are working harder than you. Don’t go to events; go to the receptions after the events. If possible, skip the receptions and go to the afterparties, where you can have a real conversation with someone.

-Run and do calisthenics instead of paying for a gym membership.

-Stay healthy; sickness is a waste of time and money.

-Avoid all messy and needy people including family; they threaten your work. You may believe your messy life supplies material, but it in fact distracts you from understanding that material. . .

-Don’t give favors to people or institutions that lack authority or consequence. Publishing or showing work where no one will see it or giving a reading where no one will hear it is a favor. Learn graciously to decline. The world will catch on that you are a valuable commodity.

-When you find great work, help it along; expect nothing in return. Bringing great work to the world is your job, whether you or someone else created it.

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