Ang Lee and the Uncertainty of Success

I just saw this blog post, Ang Lee and the uncertainty of success, describing the writer / director’s very long pre-career. It’s sobering stuff. The thirty-year-old Ang Lee, after studying at NYU with Spike Lee, and winning an award as a student film-maker, then just works and works, waiting for something to happen. Six years pass like that, with nothing to show for it.

He spends every day at home, working on scripts, raising the kids, doing the cooking. That’s a six-year span — six years! — filled with dashed hopes and disappointments. “There was nothing,” he told The New York Times. “I sent in script after script. Most were turned down. Then there would be interest, I’d rewrite, hurry up, turn it in and wait weeks and weeks, just waiting. That was the toughest time for Jane and me. She didn’t know what a film career was like and neither did I.” It got so discouraging that Lee reportedly contemplated learning computer science so he could find a job during this time, but was scolded by his wife when she found out, telling him to keep his focus.

Put yourself in his shoes. Imagine starting something now, this year, that you felt you were pretty good at, having won some student awards, devoting yourself to it full time…and then getting rejected over and over until 2019. That’s the middle of the term of the next President of the United States. Can you imagine working that long, not knowing if anything would come of it?

You can read the whole piece here: Ang Lee and the uncertainty of success.

Building Your Own Literary Community

Yi Shun Lai, nonfiction editor of The Tahoma Literary Review, offers three tips for playing a greater role in the wider literary community:

We built Tahoma Literary Review because we want to ensure the publication of great writing in a way that’s monetarily satisfying to the writer, but we also built it because we wanted to play a part in our greater literary community.

What does “literary community” mean, anyway? Strictly defined, it means all writers, readers, and editors, but we like to think of it with a special emphasis on what you can do to improve the community. Our emphasis is on the latter of the two words.

In short, she advises writers to read, comment, and buyThere is a bonus fourth tip, too, as she explains in the article: meet.

(I was touched to be named among the blogs they like to read.)

Also: you should definitely check out the journal’s week-long, daily conversation on diversity in writing and publishing, which is starting today.

Modern fiction, it's often said, is merely competent. Here's to some "incompetent" fiction.


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