Right now reading Okay For Now. A really beautiful book. The narrative voice is perfect: a tough, decent kid who somehow never learned to read, and loves to draw. I like how he talks to the reader: “which you would know why if you were paying attention.” Or, “you got that?” Or, “I bet you didn’t catch that, did you?” Or, “She called me an artist, which you probably wouldn’t have noticed if I didn’t point it out.” I fall in love with the character because of the way he talks: So what? Big deal. Terrific.

What does that teach me? Get out of the character’s way? Don’t explain everything? Don’t worry so much about making sense? Your character has an affair. He doesn’t think, I’m sick of my wife, but I’m too cowardly to leave so maybe I can give myself a tiny vacation by flirting with this woman. No. He thinks about the dress she had on, the way it caught on the back of her calf, and the run in her stocking that she didn’t even notice. His wife would never leave the house like that, with a wrinkled dress and a torn stocking. She would feel contempt for the woman who did.

In the end, the only thing that matters is how long you stay at it. By how long I mean biographically, like, years, and I also mean how many hours in a day, like from when you get up to when you go to bed. I’ve been at it for an embarrassing number of years, but I still have trouble with the daily part. Fifteen minutes can often seem overwhelming. The problem is, nobody gets to be a professional tennis player on fifteen minutes a day. Forget professional tennis player. Nobody gets a job in a pro shop on fifteen minutes a day.