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What’s the most important thing?

April 27, 2012

Like most of you, I have this day job thing, which is important to pay for the incidentals, like food, lodging, keeping the wife and kids happy. Enough booze for me to pretend I’m Ernest Hemingway for a couple hours on the occasional Friday night.

We’ve just re-organized (again) and had a meet-and-greet call with our new boss. During the interview, in which she was very gracious and took great pains to get to know each of us, she asked a very interesting question of each of us: what’s the most important thing to you? First of all, it’s pretty cool to have a boss that would ask that. Second, it’s a great question to consider when you’re writing.

What’s the most important thing to you? What’s second? Third? Fourth?

My answer, of course, was family (a completely original response that no one’s every used before). Little League, synchronized swimming, scouts, orchestra, taxi duty, swim meets. Watching adorable little people grow from the kind of trust and dependence that allows them to fall asleep on my shoulder in a big city, to figuring out and charting their own path, looking back only occasionally for encouragement and other incidental$.

Second was writing, of course. You don’t write sixty cajillion first drafts to the same freaking book without some level of dedication. Third is probably fitness right now. Fourth is my growing disillusion with our ability to disagree with ideas and hold people as valuable anyway. Fifth is professional baseball. Sixth is the Mets.

Why is this important to writers? Somewhere in a book about writing I read, the author wrote something like, “People say write what you know. I disagree with that. Write what you love. What gives you passion.” The things that drive you are the things you’ll walk through a field of broken glass to write about. They’re the things that light your fire, that will keep you writing when the lights are out and when people are in bed, or outside enjoying the lovely weather.

What’s the most important thing? How can you work that into your writing work?

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