This entry has nothing to do with my new book, and yet it does. With its publication, I have finally realized that I do good work. Perfect – no. Good - yes. Am I bragging – yes. False humility is just as wrong as unsupported bragging.
When I look back upon my life, I see that I have achieved a great deal, despite my rough upbringing, despite the years of physical, verbal, and psychological abuse, despite the resulting depression with which I am constantly struggling, and the paranoia which comes with it.
1. For any of you who express yourself through prose or poetry, listen to the justifiable criticism – the criticism which will improve your craft and learn from it..
2. Ignore those who self-righteously question your motives for writing, because they are the “experts” in the field and not you.
3. Realize that no one, yourself included, is perfect and neither is your writing.
4. Accept the honest mistakes you make. If someone questions your scholarship, revisit the research to see if you did err. If you did, admit it and go on from there. Learn from it.
5. If you were right, assert yourself and stand your ground based upon an honest re-evaluation of your work.
6. If you review books, poetry, and art, be honest but not brutal about it. Do not crush the author’s spirit. Rather, offer suggestions about what should have been done so the writer can revise it or make corrections in following works. Always keep in mind that when a person writes, he/she has generally invested their soul and love into what they have produced.
7. Do not lose sleep over nitpicking criticism. If you must, send the critic a pen with the suggestion to rewrite or edit the book to correct its errors.
8. When you write, make it the best you can do. Get a good editor to help you refine the work, which will protect you from a lot of grief.
9. Continue to improve your craft without sacrificing your unique style of presentation. No two writers, no two people, including identical twins, are the same. Our uniqueness makes us individuals.
10. Believe in yourself. If you do not believe in what you have written, do not expect anyone else to either.
11. I know that I am “not wrapped too tight,” that I sometimes “row with only one oar” but I also know that I am a good historian and a thorough researcher. I know that not everyone likes what I write. Fine. If they bought the book and threw it away, I still will get my royalty.
Like Popeye, “I y’am what I y’am and that’s all that I y’am.” I will not change how I write or the subject about which I write. “Can’t make a silk purse out of the wrong end of the pig.” Above all, I know that I have flaws and am not perfect but I have determined that I need to follow my own admonition regarding critics: “Stand to It and Give Them Hell.”