When asked if she had any advice for emerging writers in the interview with Washington Post, Joyce Carol Oates simply answered, “Frankly, no.”
Then she added the following by the prodding of the interviewer.
“The only worthwhile advice is the most general: keep trying, don’t give up, don’t be discouraged, don’t pay attention to detractors.”
Being a writer, or an artists means a lot of standing firm on your ground. But the most important is that you must never, ever forget that you are a writer, that you are an artist. Write daily. Always have some interesting topics, or causes you want to write about, and spend a lot of time researching day and night. Show up to your computer, or your writing desk every day, and commit yourself to create. It’s a means of expression, a means of communicating, a means of socializing, a means of prayer, a means of everything. Writing has to be as important as your breathing and you must cease to exist once your writing habit stops. Not writing must do something destructive to you. You have to feel that unless you write, you cannot be complete. There is always a sense of duty to writing, even if no one is calling you asking for that piece before the deadline. You have to write ceaselessly, even if no one bothers to read your stuff. Keep trying, don’t give up, don’t be discouraged, don’t pay attention to detractors.
But then, that applies to everyone. Writers are not any particular breeds.
One of the people that I admire is my brother-in-law. He wakes up at 5 every morning, and he’s out the door for work. His commute is at least an hour and half, each way, and when he comes back home, it’s already 7 PM. He does it Monday through Friday, without any exception, except his rare paid off days. He provides for his wife, and three young children, and his sense of responsibility always inspires me. I don’t know how he does it, but I know he’s not the only one doing it.
I see many hard working people at my morning job at the coffee shop. Once the door opens at 5 AM, people start to flock in one by one, and by the time the clock hits six, the morning rush begins and lasts well until 8:30 am. Most people here commutes to DC, and the interstate is a big mess. Every morning. Every evening. People go through this routine every day, Monday through Friday. I don’t think I can do it.
I once heard about my brother-in-law’s client who died on his commute after having a heart attack in his car. It was obvious that his sudden death was stress related, though I am sure his genetics played a big role as well. Around here in DC, life is very competitive. It costs a lot to live here and it’s hard to survive and keep your job. Life is dangerous around here. As the entire world has witnessed from the shooting incident at the navy yard that happened just yesterday.
Today’s Loyola press daily retreat feed states that faith is strength. It says Christian living is a conscious choice as we are faced with temptations that drive us away from what it means to be a Christian. And our daily commitment to our career, and service to offer to the world are all conscious choices. Especially true, to all lay Christians who are working here in this dying world full of fear, anxiety, and violence. We may be a newspaper delivery man, a barista, a writer, a business owner, a painter, a singer, a plumber, an IT technician, a civil engineer, a student, a parent, and a professor. There are simply too many kinds of professions. But whatever it is that we are doing, as Christians, we only have one job in us all. Our job is to let others see Jesus through us.
And I see Jesus through my brother-in-law. I see Him in the way he wakes up at 5 every morning and struggles to go to work despite his wishes and desires. He gives a lot of himself so that he can give his children a safe life here in this dark, confused world.
I see Jesus through my mom . I see Him in the way mom serves her family, my sisters and I, my father, and now, her three grandchildren who are in many needs of nurturing. Without her, I know many things will fall, and the balance will be broken.
I see Jesus through my dad. I see Him in the way he strives to find the right job for him by praying to God the Father, and shows up to his job schedules that randomly calls for him even though his boss can never pay him on time in these times of hardships.
I see Jesus through M. I see him in the way he kneels at the church with his strong, manly hands gripping together in prayer asking for the reconnection he used to have with God when he was an altar boy in El Salvador.
And I know that it is really the power of the Holy Spirit shining the spot light on Jesus in each and every one of us.
Life is a conscious choice. It is not for us o take granted. Who knows that tomorrow will come again? Who promised you another day to live, another day to serve God in this fallen world, and to provide for the family in this hurtful and violent society? All we have is today, and the present is the only thing that we have to work with.
And the only moment is what we have right now. This is the only chance we can choose to let Jesus work through us. This is the only day we can let faith be our pure strength.
Let’s pack up the gift of faith from God and go on with our day in a full joy mode!
And once again, remember the advice from a wrier because it applies to every one in every profession.
“Keep trying, don’t give up, don’t be discouraged, don’t pay attention to detractors.”