Thursday, April 11, 2013

Highlights from TLH Book Club

Highlights from my new talk, given last night. Basically, I discuss how I came to be a writer, which I've talked about many times, but this time I added pop-out lessons and warnings that can be applied to many fields. [The quotes are rough. The MP3 version of the full speech might be on the way...]

Here goes:

"Our culture is deeply invested in the concepts of inspiration, having big dreams, innate talent, and luck. These four concepts have one thing in common: they require no work. Success in any field requires work. The arts require hours, days, years..." 

I broke down all four concepts (more or less) but here's my take on inspiration .... "I tell my students the old adage, 'When there is no wind, row.' And I also add, 'When there is wind, row double-time.' I have been inspired. The problem is inspiration is not sustainable. You can be inspired to write the first paragraph of a trilogy, but not the thousands of pages that a trilogy demands."

“When I say I’ve been published by most of the major publishing houses in New York City, I don’t mention that I’ve also been rejected by all of them. You don’t publicize the failures.”

"Failure is just a narrative plot point. When you're in it, failing, it feels like the end of the story, but it's really just the middle. When you fail in your career, it's just part of the story that leads to the eventual success. When you fall in love with the wrong person, it feels like failure but it's really setting you on the course to meet the person you're meant for..."

"A lot of people are talking about 'Leaning In,' these days. I would have a much more nuanced, smart and well-thought out response to the chatter, if I weren't so busy leaning. With four kids and a career, I've leaned in and leaned out. I've learned how to sway. To live a resentment-free life, I had to learn how to do both -- have a family and keep writing. I've done both intensely."

In case you would like to read more, here's another write-up of the event.