Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A plaintive note. And a response.

I got one of those plaintive notes I often get from a young person struggling with his career. As, I suppose, a semi-public service, I am reprinting my response here:

It's a strange business and a strange world we live in. Yes, it's a world where braggarts seem to succeed
and the thoughtful, pensive or moderate seem to be buried. 

That said, there are ways to overcome the "energetic."

It's called persistence.

If you can't out-bombast them, you can out-work them, out-think them, out-perform them.

I don't know how old you are, but I take it I have a few years on you. Take this in that spirit.

Try not to think of life merely on a day to day basis. Of who's "won" or who's screwed you or who's overlooked something you've done. Think of your life as a writer as a long road. And let persistence and steadiness be your watchwords. The "summer soldiers" will disappear when the going gets tough. You will be there, coming through.

Sure, sometimes it looks like the poseurs win. And sometimes they do. But get to a place that is run by "mensches." A Yiddish word meaning people of honor and integrity.

Make that your goal.

And from that good will flow.

Find that place. Find good people. Find people like yourself.

As for the misery you're facing in your job now, think about this.

80% of everyone's job sucks. It's boring, demeaning, routine. Dull.

20% (if you're lucky) is worth something--can really mean something, can make a difference.

The trick is to find a way to spend 80% of your time doing the 20% of work you like.
And 20% of your time doing the 80% crap.

So work like mad to get fast. Come in early and clear your desk.  Get the shit out of the way.
So you can focus on what you like.

We old people don't have all the answers.

And I'd bet that even David Abbott hates his job at least three days out of five.
That's life.
And no amount of barking will ever change it.

You're a good writer.
I can tell that.
If you're not at a place that values you or good writing, create a plan to get to a better place.
Not simple.
But necessary.


Deb Siegel said...

Thanks for this, George. Great advice at any level. (Particularly for me these days.) Miss you and your daily pearls of wisdom!

Red Red said...

Wise advice. Thank you George.

george tannenbaum said...

Deb, let me know if you feel like chatting.

Anonymous said...

Wise words. Thank you

Abhishek said...

If only people were as good at doing something about things as they are at whining, eh.

Your words cut through the fog of pettiness, as they often do.