Sunday, December 11, 2011

Applying to College.

I won't be doing that again, I hope. But there's an article in the New York Times this morning about college application essays. Apparently applicants are still writing the kind of overblown, overlong, over-boring essays that I sent off to my select schools. According to the article, many schools have begun offering Twitter-style prompts that are to be answered in twenty-five words or less. One of them caught my eye:

"If you could do something with no risk of failure, what would you do?"

My thoughts immediately turned to my next book, which I am about to start outlining. I thought "I would write faster." But that is wrong. The real answer?

"I would no longer value that goal."

True, isn't it. In your heart of hearts, why write— why do anything— if you will automatically succeed? Why be Nero prancing on a stage in front of your terrified and cowed subjects? And it's not that publishing well is hard. It's that writing well is hard. This new book will be very very hard. Heck, just keeping it under 100,000 words is going to be hard. Making it good in my own eyes will probably be the toughest thing I've ever done as a writer, if I manage it.

I can't wait to start.

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