The Writer’s Technique in Thirteen Theses – Walter Benjamin’s timeless advice on writing, 1928.
Does it matter that what you’ve achieved, with your online special and your tour can’t be replicated by other performers who don’t have the visibility or fan base that you do?
Why do you think those people don’t have the same resources that I have, the same visibility or relationship? What’s different between me and them?
You have the platform. You have the level of recognition.
So why do I have the platform and the recognition?
At this point you’ve put in the time.
There you go. There’s no way around that. There’s people that say: “It’s not fair. You have all that stuff.” I wasn’t born with it. It was a horrible process to get to this. It took me my whole life. If you’re new at this — and by “new at it,” I mean 15 years in, or even 20 — you’re just starting to get traction. Young musicians believe they should be able to throw a band together and be famous, and anything that’s in their way is unfair and evil. What are you, in your 20s, you picked up a guitar? Give it a minute.
Good little girls always show marked deference for the aged. You ought never to ‘sass’ old people unless they ‘sass’ you first.
Mark Twain’s Advice to Little Girls.
1. Read, read read! Classic poems for children and adults, books about poetry. Never trust anyone who writes more than he or she reads. Even if you want to write free verse, learn verse forms and metrics until your eyes glaze over. You can break those rules, but only after you have learned them first.
2. Make a dictionary your best friend, no matter how geeky that sounds. Most children will speak only one language in their lifetimes, so why not make your fluency in that language as masterful as you can.
3. If you say you want to be a writer (prose or poetry), I applaud you. The next words out of your mouth should be, “But I promise to be a rewriter!” I don’t even know why we use the word “writer.” All the great writers in the world have been rewriters. So buy yourself a big wastebasket, and keep it filled.
Advice to aspiring poets from J. Patrick Lewis, the current United States children’s poet laureate.
George Plimpton on the art of public speaking and how to overcome stage fright.
You want to be a writer? Keep writing.
The best work in literature is always done by those who do not depend on it for their daily bread and the highest form of literature, Poetry, brings no wealth to the singer.
Make some sacrifice for your art and you will be repaid but ask of art to sacrifice herself for you and a bitter disappointment may come to you.
Wilde’s words, embedded in which is a poignant addition to history’s finest definitions of art, are reminiscent of Alan Watts’s admonition that money shouldn’t be the object of life, which George Saunders recently echoed.