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The Craft of Editing a Very Short Story

Lydia Davis, an author of “very short stories” for more than 40 years, described her editing process in feature for The Atlantic. The image above contains the original handwritten text. She then made these edits: 1. The two dogs and two cats, as well as the mice, were part of my real situation, but I…

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Surrender Yourself to the Great Abyss

So many good things in this one. Best bet is to watch the video.   “When you make something, you wonder: Will it stay at the top? Will it speak to people? Will it lose its relevance? But you can’t worry about those things. You have to create things that are truthful to yourself.” “Every…

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Thoughts on Working from the Drugstore

The drugstore in my neighborhood has a deliberate policy of wasting every customer’s time. If you arrive to pick up a prescription, you’ll wait a minimum of 20 minutes, guaranteed. It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting a refill. It doesn’t matter if your doctor’s office has called in your prescription. It doesn’t matter if…

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Hard Work and More Work

I’m not usually a baseball fan, but I enjoyed reading about Tony Gwynn’s commitment to success. “They just feel like stuff is supposed to happen to them,” he said. “They’re not going to have to work for it. And that bugs me because I know how hard I had to work to get where I…

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The Crunch

You've been here before. The weeks and months have gone by, and now you find yourself at the point where something big is due. The deadline you've been ignoring is now staring you in the face.

Sup, the deadline says. Did you forget about me?

You didn't forget, of course. But you didn't entirely take it seriously either. It was hiding out in the background, and now the background has planted itself directly in front of your desk.

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Worth It All

Sometimes it’s hard to know if it’s all worth it. You’re out in the woodshed, slaving away on this thing you love, night and day. But does anyone else care?Will anyone else care? At times, you may be tempted to pack it in. You’d like to return to normal, to the way things were before…

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Leading a Horse to Water

There's an old story about a salesperson who was disappointed in losing an important sale.

He talked with the boss about why it didn't work out. "I guess," he said, "It just proves you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."

"Maybe," said the boss, "But let me give you some advice: your job is not to make him drink. It's to make him thirsty."

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Small Things Can Keep Us from Big Things

Lately I've felt that I'm doing well at the small things, but failing to plan for more involved work. It's not that the small things are inconsequential—or so I tell myself. If you also struggle with doing small things well but neglecting the bigger picture, it's time to take action. The only way to break the pattern is to force ourselves to look ahead and answer the question:

What, exactly, am I trying to build here?

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