Write all the time. I believe in writing every day, at least a thousand words a day. We have a strange idea about writing: that it can be done, and done well, without a great deal of effort. Dancers practice every day, musicians practice every day, even when they are at the peak of their careers – especially then. Somehow, we don’t take writing as seriously. But writing – writing wonderfully – takes just as much dedication.
If you’re a writer, your first duty, a duty you owe to yourself and your readers, and to your writing itself, is to become wonderful. To become the best writer you can possibly be.
Accept criticism. If you do not offer your work for criticism and accept that criticism, meaning give it serious thought and attention, then you will never improve.
Read a lot. But read as a writer, to see how other writers are doing it. And make your knowledge of literature in English as deep and broad as you can. In workshops, writers are often told to read what is being written now, but if that is all you read, you are limiting yourself. You need to get a good overall sense of English literary history, so you can write out of that knowledge.
Learn as much as you can. Take every opportunity to learn about writing, whether it’s through classes, workshops, whatever is available to you. This may be difficult, because things like classes, workshops, writing programs, require time and money. But I say this honestly and somewhat harshly – if you’re not willing to prioritize your writing, perhaps you should do something else?
...we have, each of us, a story that is uniquely ours, a narrative arc that we can walk with purpose once we figure out what it is. It's the opposite to living our lives episodically, where each day is only tangentially connected to the next, where we are ourselves the only constants linking yesterday to tomorrow. There is nothing wrong with that, and I don't want to imply that there is by saying how much this shocked me -- just that it felt so suddenly, painfully right to think that I have tapped into my Long Tale, that I have set my feet on the path I want to walk the rest of my life, and that it is a path of stories and writing and that no matter how many oceans I cross or how transient I feel in any given place, I am still on my Tale's Road, because having tapped it, having found it, the following is inevitable....
Read and write all the time. Never stop sending out your stuff. If you're constantly writing and sending stuff out, eventually someone will bite.
As I’ve said before, “the Mod generation”, contrary to popular belief, was not born in even 1958, but in the 1920s after a steady gestation from about 1917 or so. Now, Mod certainly came of age, fully sure of itself by 1958, completely misunderstood by 1963, and in a perpetual cycle of reinvention and rediscovery of itself by 1967 and 1975, respectively, but it was born in the 1920s, and I will maintain this. I don’t care who disagrees with me, and there are dozens of reasons that I do so —from the Art Deco aesthetic, to flapper fashions (complete with bobbed hair), to androgyny and subtle effeminacy, to jazz.
New York always feels more like my hometown than the places where I actually grew up (which weren't far from New York), perhaps because I did my artistic growing up while working in this crazy, wonderful city back in my twenties. Although I love the quieter, slower, nature-rich life I live now in the sheep-dotted hills of Devon, there are ways in which I still feel more truly myself here in New York, more than anywhere else. Even after all this time in the desert and on Dartmoor. Strange, isn't it?