A Writer’s Desiderata
With apologies to Max Ehrmann…
Go placidly amid the critique groups and competition,
and remember what creativity there may be in
your own locked study.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all editors, publishers, and fellow writers.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
Or go to cons, get liquored up, and pick senseless fights on panels;
and listen to others,
even the pompous and their sycophantic followings.
They too have their stories, even if they are cautionary ones.
Avoid panels populated by loud and obnoxious persons,
and aggressive handselling;
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare your sales figures with others’,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser sellers than yourself.
Enjoy your published works as well as your current draft.
Keep interested in your own stories, however humble;
and don’t forget to feed the muse;
he/she/it/they is the only thing that can keep you out of the Pit of Writer’s Block.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of vanity publishers, incomprehensible contracts, and useless literary agents.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for a piece of the next bestseller;
and everywhere life is full of kick-ass marketing schemes.
Especially, do not feign talent you haven’t got.
Neither be cynical about multiple drafts;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
rewriting is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of those whose careers will never see the far side of the midlist,
gracefully surrendering the illusions of the unready-to-publish.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden bad reviews.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of the distance between yourself and New York.
Beyond what is required to make your deadlines,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a descendant of the greats,
no less than Roger Zelazny and Stephen King;
you have a right to be on this side of the panel table.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the con is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with your publisher,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your plot and characterization methods,
in the noisy confusion of publishing keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful business.
Strive to be happy.