Years back, somewhere around 1997, I’d guess, I asked Janet Burroway, my dissertation director, for her advice on embarking on this whole writing thing. Janet’s answer was pretty much exactly this, from King—don’t wall yourself off from your family in order to write. Rather, write in the middle of them all.

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Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of great advice, but none’s finally been as important as what Janet Burroway told me twenty years ago. It’s not about lining a shelf, it’s about building a life.

Here’s some random snap of my desk in the corner, roundabout 2001, 2002. What you can’t see is that this is also my wife and my’s bedroom—I could roll two feet to my right and be up against the bed, which was on cinderblocks. Our curtains were cardboard I’d cut and taped over the glass. Our kids were babies. It was the best of times, it was the best of times.

I’ve got my favorite rejections taped up on the shelf beside me, and I’ve got my wife’s picture there for when she’s not. Even one of her old driver’s licenses, looks like. And my son had drawn in marker all over my keyboard.

My desk is still in a corner these days, albeit a corner in my study. But I try to remember Janet’s advice, and never close the door.

Author: SGJ