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Advice from Those Who've Made It

Categories: MFA Confidential Blog.

Everybody’s got that one friend who keeps the group apprised of all things cool and culturally relevant. My close friend, Theresa, is that person for me. Theresa was the first person I knew to have an IPhone, she knows the best restaurants in Chicago that don’t make it into Chicago Magazine and the best little bars that don’t make it onto Yelp, and she’s single-handedly, through a strict regime of mixed CDs and emailed YouTube links, saved me from my propensity to listen to synthesized pop music aimed at 13 year old audiences. She’s always sending me links to interesting news articles and introducing me to cool new websites and blogs, and today she sent me a link to a wonderful writer’s blog that I’ve been obsessing over all day.

thedaysofyore.com is a great place to browse when you’re feeling dejected and broke by your life as a writer and you need some inspiration. It consists of interviews with successful writers like Jennifer Egan and Gary Schteyngart who talk about what their lives were like before their success—the jobs where they eked out livings and snuck in writing when the boss’s back was turned, the put-downs they got in their workshops, the drafts they threw away, the rejections they endured, the doubts they felt, the fears of failure, the constant self-doubt.

It all felt very familiar.

Reading these interviews reminded me that if you’re not knotting yourself up with doubt and fear, you’re not working hard enough, you’re not humble enough, and you don’t care enough to put in the work it takes to make it. Any success you have as a writer, no matter how small, is hard won.

And for those of us who are still polishing the drafts of our first books, all that means is that the best is yet to come. Schteyngart says: “Before you publish your first book, there is a sense that you are living an adventure. Something great can happen, something terrible can happen, and nothing can happen, which is the worst of all. But it is exciting.”

And on a totally unrelated note: GO BULLS. GO HAWKS.

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2 Responses to Advice from Those Who've Made It

  1. dustin buttry says:

    thanks for the post i read it, not that interesting and i found some good friendship, restaurant, writer life, boxing …..
    i must say GO BULLS. GO HAWKS.
    TUV Rheinland of North America

  2. Derek J says:

    It is very comforting to hear about other contemporary writer’s struggles. Egan was in Time’s top 100 people this past week along with several other writers who earned it the hard way. For my part, I find that when my writing makes me feel the most afraid to share it, that it is the best I’ve got. Conversely, when I am totlaly comfortable and confident, the writing does not get much reaction from the audience. Writing, I am finding, is like boxing; everything is backwards. You turn your ankles left to punch right.

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