When i look at him, i don't see the cowardly young man who sold me out to jeanine matthews, and i don't hear the excuses he gave afterward. when i look at him, i see the boy who held my hand in the hospital when our mother broke her wrist and told me it would be all right. i see the brother who told me to make my own choices, the night before the choosing ceremony. i think of all the remarkable things he is--smart and enthusiastic and observant, quiet and earnest and kind.
Another editor. That thing behind his ear is his pencil. Whenever he finds a bright thing in your manuscript he strikes it out with that. That does him good, and makes him smile and show his teeth, the way he is doing in the picture. This one has just been striking out a smart thing, and now he is sitting there with his thumbs in his vest-holes, gloating. They are full of envy and malice, editors are.
I'm a very smart guy. I haven't a feeling or a scruple in the world. All i have the itch for is money. I am so money greedy that for twenty-five bucks a day and expenses, mostly gasoline and whisky, i do my thinking myself, what there is of it; i risk my whole future, the hatred of the cops . . . I dodge bullets and eat saps, and say thank you very much, if you have any more trouble, i hope you'll think of me, i'll just leave one of my cards in case anything comes up.
Maybe if i'd agreed to do the debutante thing like she wanted. Or taken up pageants instead of riding jump bikes with a bunch of grungy boys. I'd always tell her, why can't i do both? Who says you have to be either smart or pretty, or into girly stuff or sports? Life shouldn't be about the either/or. We're capable of more than that, you know?
You can't just be talented: you have to be terribly smart and energetic and ruthless. You also have to become necessary to people, by working hard and well and bringing more than your bones and your skin to the project. Don't just show up. Transform the work, yourself, and everybody around you. Be needed. Be interesting. Be something no one else can be--and consistently.
It took years after id graduated from amherst to realize that people were actually far more complicated and interesting than books, that almost everyone else suffered the same secret fears and inadequacies as i, and that feeling alone and inferior was actually the great valent bond between us all. I wish id been smart enough to understand that when i was an adolescent.
Adults constantly raise the bar on smart children, precisely because they're able to handle it. the children get overwhelmed by the tasks in front of them and gradually lose the sort of openness and sense of accomplishment they innately have. when they're treated like that, children start to crawl inside a shell and keep everything inside. it takes a lot of time and effort to get them to open up again. kids' hearts are malleable, but once they gel it's hard to get them back the way they were.
You know what i can't understand? You have all these people telling you all the time how great you are, smart and funny and talented and all that, i mean endlessly, i've been telling you for years. So why don't you believe it? Why do you think people say that stuff, em? Do you think it's a conspiracy, people secretly ganging up to be nice about you?
My therapist told me i need to learn to love myself. It sounds easy enough, but really, how do you just wake up one day and learn that? It feels like something you should just do involuntarily, like swallowing or blinking, but now i have to work on it. It feels so forced. I mean, i know i went to a good school, and people tell me i'm smart and creative, but i don't know that. I don't know how to make myself feel that.