1. New York
New York! It is a hard fucking town. New York is mean. In New York everyone is smarter and more talented and younger and richer and better-looking than you. In New York you can spit and hit fifteen people who are doing the exact same thing you are doing, much better than you are doing it, and for a lot more money. So here is a lesson you learn fast in New York: you better fucking love yourself, because ain't no one here going to do it for you. No one. There is only one way to survive in New York, and that is to love yourself with a boundlessness that transforms this city into magic (or to just be ludicrously rich, but that option is not currently on the table for us).
Publishing is like New York. Author-friends, The Publishing Industry does not give a shit about you unless you can make it money. Publishing is not interested in your dreams or in holding your hand until you achieve them. Do you see where we are going with this? Waiting to be published in order to live your real life is a lot like hanging out on the sidewalks of Manhattan hoping someone will notice you are special. The odds are not in your favor.
But embracing the amazing being that you are: this is a thing that no one can take away from you. Not Publishing, not your mean relative who doesn't get why you keep sending out your novel, not even the city of New York. And so, we command you now, go to a mirror. Look at the person in the mirror. Say to that person: YOU ARE A MOTHERFUCKING FORCE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, YOU ARE BRILLIANT, AND YOU ARE REALLY FUCKING HOT. Seriously. Go do it. Keep doing it until you stop laughing and believe it. And then send out your book. Again. And again. As long as takes.
We run; also, it is hot! These items we have mentioned before. We are not an especially good runner. We are not fast (4,000th place in the NYC half-marathon); we look sort of funny when we run ("you have a very particular gait," says Support Team). Running in 100-degree weather in New York is not fun. Not even a little bit. But a funny thing does happen, when one runs in very unpleasant conditions: everyone else running on that day becomes your friend. There is a secret solidarity of people who like running enough to do it when the going gets awful. These people, as we pass them, give little waves, or winks, or nods: the camaraderie of those dumbasses ridiculous enough to keep at it when sensible people are embracing their air conditioner with a pitcher of sangria.
These people may or may not be good runners. Like us, they are probably people who will never, ever, not in a million years, win a race of any kind. But they understand the misery and the intangible joy that we also feel in doing something that is exceptionally unfun, without the prospect of any kind of reward, simply because it is a thing we care about.
YOU ARE THOSE PEOPLE, Author-friends! YOU are that solidarity of brave souls, plugging away in often displeasing conditions! Other people in your life might laugh at your dreams, or think they are silly, or just totally not understand them; but what counts is that YOU HAVE THEM. Author-friends, YOU WROTE A FUCKING BOOK. That's pretty fucking GREAT, is it not?
So: SACK UP, is what we are saying. THERE'S NO CRYING IN PUBLISHING. Go out there with your fabulous selves, and own that shit. OWN IT. LOVE YOURSELF. Own how awesome you are, and how brave, every last one of you. Fuck a bunch of form letters. You're a fucking WRITER.
And don't forget: PROOFREAD.