When True/Slant’s Susannah Breslin received an email from an aspiring young journalist asking her for advice, her first inclination was to tell him to fuck off. “12 years into a little-rewarding writing career, I have grown bitter, jaded, and tend to see bright-eyed, bushy-tailed upstarts such as yourself as little more than potential competition. Why would I help you?”
Eventually though she acquiesced, penned some of the more candid advice we have read in quite some time, and posted it on her blog.
Most writers can’t write. Most journalists are shit. Go where no one else will go. Write what no one else will write. Tell the stories nobody wants to hear. Write for love. Do gigs for free. Stop churning out the same boring fucking copy that your peers are dutifully filing like a bunch of self-congratulating monkeys and find out what “beyond the pale” really means. Read this. And this. And this. Go into the ghetto. Interview a homeless person. Find out what it’s like to get jizzed on for a living. Fuck the pyramid, fuck j-school, fuck writing for a living. Fuck your computer, fuck your rent, fuck whatever your parents said. Go and live. Go be in the world. Go push yourself until you cry and then go back for more and then write about it. Because that’s what real writers do. They don’t just write about it. They live it. And then, if you’re lucky, you can find out what it’s like to lose everything, how to get the guy to show you the AK-47 that you know he has hidden in his closet, or joke with a soldier about giving a stripper the implant in his head that’s stretching his burned skin because he drove over an IED in Iraq after he’s done with it. Why? Because then you can die knowing that whatever you did, or whatever you wrote, hey, at least you weren’t a fucking coward like all those lame-asses that went to j-school, wrote shit copy for lame newspapers, and thought they were really pushing it because they did an email interview with Sasha Grey.
Best part: The kid she’s writing the advice to, David Johnson-Igra, replies in the comments section.