09 Jan

I told my intern… (thoughts about being a writer)

I have a new intern, joining the team with another intern I already have been working with from the local college. They do cool things for me that help with some outreach, PR, admin tasks that I struggle to keep up with.

New intern came with a notebook and lots of questions for her first meeting, and for some reason I was quite willing to talk on and on. And I wrote on twitter that I’d wished I’d recorded the little monologues. I then began to tweet what I remembered. Here’s a pseudo reconstruction of all the tweets I made:

I told my intern, it’s so hard to predict who’ll sell enough books to make a living, or make a splash. Or which books will react…

So you need to focus on doing what Neil Gaiman said, the art. The book. The story. Not whether you’re owed a living or success…

The success may come. It may not. But if you did work you love are proud of and don’t come at [the job of being a writer] with entitlement, you’ll always be proud of it…

I’ve seen a lot of writers get twisted up and bitter about that entitlement. They’ve worked so hard (and they have) and didn’t sell X… [I let expectations and bitterness sabotage me on my second novel, a hard but valuable lesson among many I learned on that book]

But in art, sometimes the hard work on a specific project doesn’t translate to success…

And that is hard [it really is] to take. But if you focus on the love of the work, then you have that. It can’t be taken away…

And if you work really hard for a very long time, you increase the chances of breaking out. Almost all overnight success is after long work… [if you look hard enough, you almost always find years of prep. I can only think of a small number of true overnight successes I've met. Many of them often faded away because they didn't understand what they'd just done, or got frustrated by the next level of hard work ahead of them]

I told my intern refuse debt. Live as simply as you can b/c if you want to be an artist there are no regular paychecks…

…if single, consider exploring another country where exchange rate helps you, or do the tiny apartment thing. Minimalism. [is your ally]

I told my intern there’s nothing wrong with not making a full living off art. Amazing art comes from long time part timers…

If you part time your art, don’t resent it’s inability to make your living. Remember it’s importance, maybe even over job. But don’t resent…

I told my intern everyone around you is not an artist. They will pressure you, out of good will and love, to make bad decisions for an artist [it's not their fault, they mean well, but they're not doing what you're doing]

I told my intern if you want art to be your job, it needs to be your job now. You need to spend time on it like it’s your second job.

I told my intern once you write the work, and loved it, and created it, then you become mercenary. Put on small biz cap.

…once you’ve lovingly crafted widget, you try to sell it. But don’t assume your first widget will work, entrepreneur. Maybe next…

I told my intern go out and start trying to make art, and make money off it right now. There’s no certificate, no formal hiring process.

I told my intern you will hear no a lot. It doesn’t mean anything other than ‘not right now with this.’ I still hear no all the time.