What it Takes

Kaye Gibbons

In The Oxford American , Southern novelist Kaye Gibbons recently challenged readers to consider whether they truly have what it takes to become a writer. I’m leaving this excerpt here because what she’s asking is so crucial to any Cavalier Career, literary or otherwise:

How much normalcy are you willing to relinquish to make your dreams happen?
  • Are you willing to live embracing intense experience, emotions, and ideas, loving deeply, hating deeply, forsaking mediocrity, preferring complete failure to mere competency?
  • Can you eliminate the people and things, no matter how enjoyable, that suck the creative energy out of you?
  • Are you prepared to go around distracted every waking moment and endure characterizations of yourself as abnormal or flaky when the reality is that you have too much on your mind to think about societal perceptions? …
  • Can you survive for long stretches of time with little or no income? …
  • Does your family “get” that what you do isn’t a job, it’s your life’s mission? Do you feel buffeted by their compassionate comprehension? Are you prepared to give them everything in return?
  • Do you realize that writing fiction isn’t an escape from reality but a harassing, frightening journey into the real story of your meaning in the real world?
  • While you’re locked away, grimy and edgy, criticizing your sorry inability to say what you’re dying to express, can you simultaneously sustain a sort of heightened, almost eroticized self assurance that you’re doing something that no one else can do…?”

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