I had a writing professor once who said part of the reason he never gave up while he was in grad school was the cubicle that chased him right over his shoulder. I pictured this floating desk monster thing hovering in the air, sucking like a vacuum. And maybe laughing with this deep throaty sound as it chased after its sprinting, panting writer victim.
It’s nice to think you can spend your whole life suffering and trying with your art, but the reality is, at some point, you have to support yourself. Get a real job, as they say. And if you’re a writer, then the chances are you aren’t good at anything else besides writing, which means you can expect some low-level entry job that maybe a high level primate could do just as well. Hence, the cubicle monster.
You run from it because if it catches you, that’s it, you’re done. You must do whatever writing you can within its bonds and while not impossible, this is always more difficult. I don’t mean to imply that while you’re struggling to make it as a writer, it’s blasphemy to work somewhere else, doing something else. It’s not. What I mean is, nothing but a full-out sprint, or in other words, your very best effort, will produce much.
Except for that one. That rare exception. As Anne Lamott says, “We do not like her very much. We do not think that she has a rich inner life or that God likes her or can even stand her.”
That being said, if you worry about the cubicle over your shoulder, I invite you to draw inspiration from . . . Arnold Schwarzenegger. Fo real.
1. Trust yourself
Don’t wait until you know who you are before you get started
2. Break some rules
Steal like an artist
3. Don’t be afraid to fail
Create volumes and volumes of crappy work
4. Forget the naysayers
No one can do the work you do except you
5. Work like hell
Be boring. (It’s the only way to get work done)
6. Give something back
Write the book you want to read, and make your art for those you love and those you’d love to meet