Saturday, August 20, 2011

Advice I Gave this Week to a Young Writer

I ask people for advice and people sometimes ask me for advice. This week, a former student and now a good friend -- who's a fantastic writer and now trying to make it in 9 to 5 America -- writes me a pretty desperate message from his day job. He's having trouble making it through. I thought I'd post here what I wrote to him. It's not pretty advice and it might not be good advice. But it's what I thought might get him through the day and maybe someone else will get something out of it:

dave and i have been through some shit together -- hard hard work. scraping by. having kids. succeeding and failing and failing and succeeding. and we've always been able to gut things out if we have short term and long term goals. in fact, you put everything negative out of your mind and you do what's in front of you because you have to -- to get to that long-term goal. i can be extremely specific here.
you can do this. just keep gutting it out. for now. you're going to do great things. i know this. i really and truly do.
don't worry.
call me later if you want.
think: i'm here b/c i want the paycheck b/c the paycheck allows me to get X Y Z and meanwhile i write -- i was always a prisoner with a spoon. digging my tunnel (writing) when no one was paying attention -- and late at night, making time from nothing.
these people around you are characters. you aren't going to have access to them forever. this is short term -- in the long view -- it's part of your story. it will inform your work. these people are material. if you aren't taking notes on this shit, you should be.
write down their language their gestures... work this. and think of your goals. you can gut this out.

if all else fails, be glad you're not in vietnam, during the war. that helps me sometimes. "i'm not in nam. i'm not in nam. i'm not in nam."