We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. Most, I found, were of working-class or otherwise modest backgrounds, kids who did exactly what they were told they should: studied, got into college, and are now not just being punished for it, but humiliated – faced with a life of being treated as deadbeats, moral reprobates.
Is it really surprising they would like to have a word with the financial magnates who stole their future?
“I asked him did he really love New York or was he just wearing the shirt. He smiled, like he was nervous. I could tell he didn’t understand, which made me feel guilty for speaking English, for some reason. I pointed at his shirt. “Do? You? Really? Love? New York?” He said, “New York?” I said, “Your. Shirt.” He looked at his shirt. I pointed at the N and said “New,” and the Y and said “York.” He looked confused, or embarrassed, or surprised, or maybe even mad. I couldn’t tell what he was feeling, because I couldn’t speak the language of his feelings. “I not know was New York. In Chinese, ny mean ‘you.’ Thought was ‘I love you.’ ” It was then that I noticed the “I♥NY” poster on the wall, the “I♥NY” flag over the door, and the “I♥NY” dishtowels, and the “I♥NY” lunchbox on the kitchen table. I asked him, “Well, then why do you love everybody so much?”—Jonathan Safran Foer (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close)
Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
Laugh at your own jokes.
The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.