If you’re on Twitter, you’ve probably seen that tweet that everyone – it really does feel like everyone – is responding to. You know, the one that asks you to list your accomplishments over the last decade?
Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with anyone wanting to celebrate all the wonderful things they’ve done these last 10 years. I’ve done some pretty cool stuff myself, actually. Not that you asked.
But 10 years is a long time and very few people have it all their own way for that long. Most accomplishments come with a cost. We receive good news and bad news. That’s how humans work. That’s how stories work.
There’s nothing wrong with telling one side of your story. Indeed, when I saw friends reply to that tweet I started typing out my own list of personal excellence. But then I stopped, because I worried that it might seem like a) gloating, and b) I’ve enjoyed a decade of unbroken brilliance.
And sure, it has been a good decade. I am a very lucky person. But like all humans, there isn’t a single accomplishment or thing to celebrate that hasn’t arrived without some yin to the yang. Accomplishments don’t happen by magic. We have to work for them. There are knock-backs, rejections and giant jerks that get in the way. Life throws all sorts of nonsense at us.
I guess my point is that we all lead these incredibly complex lives and though Twitter memes are fun, they don’t tell the whole tale. I think it’s better to share the challenges as well as the achievements. Basically – show your work and tell your story.
Links of the week
Every issue I collect and share the best advice, apps and other shenanigans that I find on my internet travels. If you like these, you’ll like The Daily Unslush too.
Who needs another note taking app on their phone? We all do. You can never have too many. This one looks handy if you’re the sort of maniac who likes to stop what you’re doing and be able to immediately whip out your phone and write a note. What do I use for that sort of thing? I use Bear.
Fine. Here’s a list of 14 more note taking apps if you want more of this sort of thing. Also, I am pleased to see this excellent trend of picking 14 items in a listicle.
This is full of absolutely smashing advice from my long-time internet pal, Jean Hannah Edelstein. I’ve never been in a position to have anything other than a full-time job while writing fiction, so I can relate to all of it. And I am definitely terrible at step two, which is not putting your hand up for every little exciting thing that comes your way.
(Sidenote: me and Jean met in IRL just the once many years ago and she gave me the best publishing advice I’ve ever had. I was in London to read an extract from my novel at a swanky party where some magical publishing folk would be. It felt like the most important thing in the world. This was my big chance.
An absolute bundle of nerves, I met Jean for a quick coffee beforehand. I asked her if she thought I should read my novel extract from an iPad instead of a printout. Her response was very polite. But I knew instantly it meant no, not ever, not ever ever ever, not even if all the paper in all the world was burned to ash. And so I did not.)
This is a short and interesting interview with Kate McKean, the literary agent behind the excellent Agents and Books newsletter. It’s always a shock for writers when they find out just how long it takes to do anything in the publishing world.
People think that technology should have made this whole process faster and easier, and it has, but it’s still one person writing, one person editing, a few people designing and copyediting and selling a single book. I told someone today that their book, if it was ready to go right now to editors, probably wouldn’t come out until early 2022 and they gasped. But yep, that’s how it goes.
As someone several years into writing his second novel, you might not be surprised to learn that I don’t mind things taking a little time. When it comes to writing fiction, I’d rather get things right than pump out the guff, so to speak.
My reading habits have taken a firm kick in the knick-knacks since I’ve had kids. I just fall asleep when I read. Every single time. But if I did suddenly find myself able to Jonny 5 it through my bookshelves again, I rather think I might like to keep some sort of reading log. This guide borrows from a system used by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings fame, so it must be brilliant.
Ever find yourself longing for an elaborate circular chart that shows you how long it took to write some of the world’s most famous novels? Today is your lucky day. Big thanks to those literary giants over at Printer Inks for this fine work.
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