Monday, November 30, 2015

Seth Godin's THE DIP and Sylvia Plath's Love of Rejection Slips

The Dip

Seth Godin's The Dip may be a helpful principle for writer's to follow to deal effectively with rejection. In general, the principle is that it's naive to think that one will have a linear rise to reaching the New York Times Bestseller list. 

Realistically, a writer may have to experience The Dip where rejection will be the norm; however, the longer one writes the better the chance that he will be published.  In general, one will (eventually) see a direct correlation between effort and returns; however, like Ben Fountainit may take up to 18 years. 

Here are some quotes from writers that may help you get through The Dip: 

Sylvia Plath, "I love my rejection slips. They show me I try."

F. Scott Fitzgerald, "Work like hell! I had 122 rejection slips before I sold a story."


Isaac Asimov, "Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil — but there is no way around them."





Monday, November 2, 2015

THE PARIS REVIEW Rejection

Click to Enlarge


I recently submitted five poems via snail mail to The Paris Review . (Surprisingly, the editors don't accept online submissions.) And I received a rejection "letter" today. The "letter" is a bit disingenuous, because I doubt that the editors at the prestigious literary journal "regret" not being able to publish my verse. 

Kathryn A. Higgins, who interned at the journal, shared, "The Paris Review gets many unsolicited manuscripts every day and publishes I believe about one each year.

Depressing and yet encouraging — the work is definitely read, although not published."

However, I'm proud to join the likes of other poets such as Charles Bukowski whom were never published in the The Paris Review. Here's one of the poems that I submitted:


by Mo Ibrahim

Chaplin had a crush on 
12-year-old Maybelle Fournier before 
he met Mildred Harris at 14 
and at 16 his child she bore.

And he was smitten with Hetty Kelly 
and fertilized Lillita when they were 15,
after Casanova took the virginity 
of Nanetta and Marta; a true libertine. 

Seidel wrote in Ooga-Booga 
about maidens and Ducatis; only the best.
“But this woman is young. 
We kiss. It’s almost incest.”  

The Pretty Little Liars were dressed 
in minis and panties that they flashed
at the “fortysomething guy” 
before he hastily left the mall abashed.

Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany’s 
13-year-old Holiday Golightly 
married [a much] older man 
and no one opined she was crazy.

At 15 she lived with a college jock 
whose eyes could have been blue.
 At 18 she said, “I can’t get excited by a man 
until he’s at least forty-two.”

Californication’s Frank Moody had sex 
with his step-daughter who was 16.
 Bored to Death’s Ray was sad as the writer 
didn't sodomize the coed who was 16.

While On the Road Neal Cassady 
of the 15-year-old Marylou said, 
“...so sweet, so young, hmm, ahh.” 
But it was Dean who took her to bed.

In The Dark Side of Camelot  
Kennedy Sr. had sex with his 17-year-old caddie, 
while his wife, LBJ and Lady Bird 
listened to the action [over tea].

Frank Sinatra had the confidence 
to beseech an affair with 14-year-old Tuesday Weld 
who turned down the role of Kubrick’s Lolita 
before her meltdown that was uncompelled.

And what did the 16-year-old write on her FB wall?
It was her New Year’s resolution.
 “I’m going to fuck my history teacher!” 
At least she wasn't a damn freshman.

Gossip Girl’s Dan asked, 
“Who doesn’t like school girls?” 
Case in point, take the homeless man,
who whistled at the Catholic school girls.

That was on the Grand Central platform.
All the while,
the Pope approves of the length of their skirts 
that are enticing to an ephebophile

Saturday, October 3, 2015

THE PARIS REVIEW's Beneficial Twitter for Writers

In addition to Brian Koppelman's Vine and Jon Winokur's Twitter, writers may find The Paris Review's Twitter very beneficial. Here are some examples:




Saturday, August 15, 2015

Smoking May Increase a Writer's Concentration

Paul Bowles, Oscar Wilde and Patricia Highsmith



A number of famous writers smoked while they wrote. For example, Moliere said, “Whoever lives without tobacco doesn’t deserve to live.” And Oscar Wilde related, “A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?”

And a study conducted by scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Physics and Mathematics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences found the writers may smoke because smoking may have the ability to "boost concentration and imagination". However, the researchers also found that "heavy smoking damages the brain overall". 


Like Mark Twain and Freud, to possibly have the best of both worlds, you may want to consider giving up cigarettes like Andrey Vinelander, Ada's husband, who "had for years a two-pack smoker's fruity cough, but [...] when he spat a scarlet gob into his washbasin, he resolved to cut down on cigarettes and limit himself to tsigarki (cigarillos)." 

Brad Rodu posted on Tabacco Truth:


...the Kaiser Medical Care Program, one of the nation's largest health care maintenance organizations, provided the answer in 1999 by publishing an excellent study on cigar smoking in the New England Journal of Medicine. They followed 16,228 never smokers and 1,546 cigar smokers - all men - for 25 years, and compared rates of several diseases among them.  Cigar smokers were divided into those smoking less than 5 cigars a day (let's call them moderate), and 5 or more (heavy).

Compared with never smokers, heavy cigar smokers were shown to have increased risks for several smoking related diseases.  They had higher risks for heart disease (Relative Risk, RR = 1.6, 95% confidence interval, CI = 1.2 – 2.0), emphysema (RR = 2.3, CI = 1.4 – 3.7), oral and pharynx cancer (RR = 7.2, CI = 2.4 – 21.2), and lung cancer (RR = 3.2, CI = 1.01 – 10.4).

The good news: Moderate cigar smokers had only a slightly higher risk for heart disease (RR = 1.2, CI = 1.03 – 1.4).  Those smoking fewer than 5 cigars daily had no significantly increased risks for stroke, emphysema, oral/pharynx cancer or lung cancer.


The comparable health risks of smokeless tobacco (ST), cigars and cigarettes are shown below. 



Thus, just like with most things, moderation appears to be the key. It's advisable to smoke less than or equal to five cigars per day and not 22 like Twain



If you decide to smoke cigars while you write, I would additionally advise you to follow Mr. Bill's advice:
  • Beverages (e.g., espresso) are good accompaniment for a cigar
  • If you find yourself salivating...spit most of it out as opposed to swallowing it
  • Do not smoke a cigar as you would a cigarette. (i.e., Like Clinton, do not inhale.)
  • Take a puff every 30-90 seconds
  • Lastly, and arguable most importantly, never smoke on an empty stomach or you'll end up like the Berlin clerks in Nabokov's "Beneficence": [...] Berlin clerks were leaving their offices...in his eyes, the turbid nausea that comes when you smoke a bad cigar on an empty stomach[...]

If you're concerned about the effects of smoking cigars on your stamina, Micheal Jordan shared the following in the July/August 2005 issue of Cigar Aficionado, "Not many people know about it. When they read this, they'll know that each and every day for a home game, I smoked a cigar. I wanted that feeling of success, and relaxation. It's the most relaxing thing." That's correct, the greatest basketball player to, thus far, ever play the game smoked a cigar before every home game. And he mentioned that before the interview he worked out after he had a cigar. 

Edward Hopper's Nighthawks (1942) Featuring Phillies Cigars


If you're a starving artist, you may want to smoke Macanudo Ascots cigarillos (i.e., mini cigars). They're more expensive (e.g., $18.95/10) than machine made cigars like Phillies and Garcia y Vegas, but they're less expensive than premium cigars, which can go for more than $18.95 for a single cigar. 

(Phillies have a processed wrapper which according to Famous Smoke "are made from so-called sheet binder, a homogenized tobacco product in which large quantities of tobacco are broken down and reconstructed into a sheet of “tobacco paper,” as opposed to an actual tobacco leaf, which has been cured, fermented, and aged." Consequently, the Phillies "leafs" leaves an extremely strong tobacco smell on the hand(s). The Garcia y Vegas are made with a natural leaf wrapper, but the tobacco may be mixed with paper and other chemicals.) 

It's important that one "toast" his cigar before (fully) lighting it, which in many cases is very difficult to do especially with the winds coming off the Hudson and East rivers. A butane wind resistant cigar lighter is a more realistic lighter for use outdoors. (Cigar aficionados swear by butane lighters, which they claim doesn't harm the taste of the cigar.) But a regular lighter will suffice. 


Ranald Macdonald of Boisdale London: 
How to Light a Cigar via The Wall Street Journal



Interestingly, Kipling's "The Betrothed" is a poem about a poet who decides to cancel his marriage ceremony after his fiancée forces him to choose between tying the knot and smoking cigars. 

Lastly, 111-year-old Richard Arvin Overton is the oldest verified surviving U.S. World War II veteran, he is the oldest living man in the United States, and he, counter-intuitively, smokes twelve (12) cigars per day.



Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Are You a Lonely Writer?




Joyce Carol Oates said, "Writing is a solitary occupation, and one of its hazards is loneliness. But an advantage of loneliness is privacy, autonomy and freedom."

Richard Ford said, "Writing is indeed often dark and lonely...."

But Hilma Wolitzer said, "Writing fiction is a solitary occupation but not really a lonely one. The writer's head is mobbed with characters, images and language, making the creative process something like eavesdropping at a party for which you've had the fun of drawing up the guest list. Loneliness usually doesn't set in until the work is finished, and all the partygoers and their imagined universe have disappeared."


And in terms of having friends, Proust scorned friendships and according to Szeftel in Pniniad, other than attending a few soirees with other Cornell professors, Vera was enough of a friend for Nabokov. 

(Quotes source: www.AdvicetoWriters.com)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

What's More Important? Style or a Good Idea

It appears that content or a good idea can be more important than style. For example, would Lolita, despite it being extremely well written, be as well known if it weren't about the sexual seduction of a 12-year-old nubile nymphet? A number of critics and writers believe that Lolita would be on the level of The Enchanter or Laughter in the Dark but not the novel that made Nabokov rich and (in)famous.

The Blare Witch Project (1999) began with a budget of $600,000 and a 35 page outline for a script that was sans dialogue since the dialogue was improvised. The filming lasted only eight days and was done by a "cinematographer" with only two days of training. However, the innovative independent film's content trumped it's amateur techniques and feel and made a whopping $248.6 million at the Box office. 

Then you have examples like San Andreas (2015). The film received a mediocre 3 out of 5 stars from IMDb, 2.5 out of 5 stars from Rotten Tomatoes and 2 out of 5 stars from Metacritic, but the 3D disaster film made $459.8 at the Box office after being filmed on a budget of $110 million.

And I'm not the only writer who can't fully understand why Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye is a cult classic. But it may have something to do with the level of emotion that Salinger put into the book while writing it in the trenches during World War II.

Thus it appears that a good idea, which is of course subjective, can be more important than style. 


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Write for the Glory of the Art, Not "The Bread"?




As a writer you may stress over whether your writing will sell but it's completely out of your control. That is one of the reasons why it's vital to write about topics and themes that interest you as a person\writer and that you want to share for altruistic reasons.

A lot of people may agree that Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris deservedly won the 2011 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, but a lot of people may not be able to fathom how the script for Pixels (2015) was sold. 

Jon Elster shared in Explaining Social Behavior "that in some cases I can get X by doing A, but only if I do A in order to get Y. [e.g.,] If I work hard to explain the neurophysiological basis of emotion and succeed, I may earn a high reputation. If I throw my into work for a political cause, I may discover at the end of the process that I have also acquired a "character."" However, it's important to understand that a "high reputation" and "character" are "states that are essentially by-products". 

Thus, you may want to be more like Lester in The Tenants than Willie. Lester was a published novelist who wrote for the glory of the art and immortality while Willie was an unpublished writer who wrote for "The Bread". 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Be Careful About What You Snack on While Writing!

Brian Boyd wrote in Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years that Nabokov compulsively smoked Gauloises while writing but after visiting a physician due to heart palpitations Nabokov was advised to give up smoking. To ward off the nicotine cravings he started "...compulsively devouring molasses candy..." and subsequently gained sixty pounds. 

Nabokov shared in a Playboy interview, "I became as stout as Cortez-- mainly because I quit smoking [while writing] and started to munch molasses candy instead, with the result that my weight went up from my usual 140 to a monumental and cheerful 200." 

According to Secret Lives of GREAT AUTHORS Balzac often wrote for fifteen hours per day while drinking fifty cups of Turkish coffee. Unsurprisingly. it's suspected that the copious amounts of coffee contributed to his early death.

Compared to Balzac, I drink a meager five to seven half cups of coffee per day, often while writing, with one teaspoon of organic cane sugar; however, when I decided a month ago to forgo the sugar I subsequently lost a considerable amount of weight. I went down a shirt size and two belt loops!

Thus, be careful about what you snack on while writing.

Monday, June 22, 2015

What is Appropriate for Young Adult (YA) Literature?




Emily Witt related in a New York magazine “Intelligencer” article that publishers have started referring to Young Adult (YA) literature as New Adult (NA) literature. Per the American Library Association (ALA), a young adult is someone between the ages of 12 and 18-years-old. But is content that is “appropriate” for 18-year-olds “appropriate” for 12-year-olds?

Let’s look at Lauren Myracle’s ttyl. Here’s Amazon’s plot summary of the YA\NA book:

This funny, smart novel follows the friendship of three 16 year old girls [Angela Silver Madigan, "Maddie" Kinnick , and Zoe Barrettas] they experience some of the typical pitfalls of adolescence: boys, queen-bee types, a flirty teacher, beer, crazy parents, and more. Lauren Myracle has a gift for dialogue and characterization, and the girls emerge as three distinctive and likable personalities through their Internet correspondence. This light, fast-paced read is told Entirely in instant message format, the first book ever for young adults to be written so.

Here are some content that I found surprising and wrote about in this “runaway” best-selling book written for teens:

Margaret, Angela’s high school friend, knows how to squirt. 

Margaret desperately wants to have a relationship with a bohemian Georgia State University (GSU) student, but she didn’t realize that 15-year-old Angela had a crush on the collegian as well.

It excited Angela to fantasize about her classmate's "summer sausage" while she did her homework.

15-year-old Maddie danced topless on a table at a GSU frat party as camera phones snapped away.

And in terms of the teacher/student relationship, Zoe was initially attracted to Mr. H, her English teacher, because, "... he's NICE. cuz he treated me like i was a person instead of a kid. that what was so great - we were just ppl having a discussion." Zoe and her teacher went out several times, but when Mr. H invited Zoe to join him in the hot tube wearing a pair of Speedos, he "paralyzed" her and she ended the relationship.

Apparently, some parents didn’t think that ttyl was “appropriate” for 12-year-olds, because the book is on the American Library Association's list of books parents want banned.

But what is appropriate for YA\NA “literature”?


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Are You Pregnant [with Books]?



I'm currently working on a number of writing projects:

  1. The 2nd edition of The Allure of Nymphets which has almost doubled in size 
  2. A short story based on a harrowing month long event that I recently experienced  
  3. small non-fiction volume about an aspect of New York City
  4. An essay on the striking similarities between monks and pimps
  5. And a volume of verse

Thus, like the protagonist in Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, I feel pregnant with books. 

As I say, the day began gloriously. It was only this morning that I became conscious again of this physical Paris of which I have been unaware for weeks. Perhaps it is because the book has begun to grow inside me. I am carrying it around with me everywhere. I walk through the streets big with child and the cops escort me across the street. Women get up to offer me their seats. Nobody pushes me rudely anymore. I am pregnant. I waddle awkwardly, my big stomach pressed against the weight of the world.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Very Inspirational Vine for Writers




Brian William Koppelman,  the co-writer of Ocean's Thirteen and director of Solitary Man, has a very inspirational, set in Manhattan, Vine that he films for (screen) writers. 

In his latest Vine he gives his followers the "secret sauce" to success in Hollywood, "Hey, is there a magic for success in Hollywood? Do want the secret sauce? Unwavering belief. Total commitment. Rigorous work."

If you don't have a Vine account, you may want to get one just to follow Koppelman. (Disclosure: I'm not affiliated with Vine or Koppelman.)



Friday, June 5, 2015

THE TENANTS: An Extremely Good Novel and Film for Writers



If you're a writer and you're having trouble staying motivated, focused and you're being constantly interrupted by selfish people who don't take your writing seriously, then The Tenants is the novel (1971) and film (2005) for you.

If you want examples of two writers who take their writing extremely seriously, then read this book and watch the film. The novel is a page turner and the film, which is a great adaption of the novel, should be a cult classic for writers.


Here's the plot summary from IMDB: 

In an abandoned tenement, an African-American militant writer and a Jewish novelist develop a friendship while struggling to complete their novels, but inner tension rises between the two.

First Coffee, Then Write

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Balzac: Prolific Writing, Turkish Coffee and Non-Ejaculatory Orgasms...



After I recently read in Secret Lives of GREAT AUTHORS that Balzac often wrote for fifteen hours per day, drank fifty cups of Turkish coffee per day, and practiced, as Deida recommends in The Way of the Superior Man, non-ejaculatory orgasms (It works!), I found my copy of Lost Illusions and re-read my dog-eared pages. I re-discovered some very interesting things. For example:

Print is to manuscripts what the stage is to an actress - it brings to light both beauties and defects; it may kill, or it may bring it to life; a flaw leaps to the eye, and so does a finely expressed idea. p. 376

And if you think that's interesting, check this out. I ordered my used copy of Lost Illusions from Amazon, and coincidentally, the copy I received from Amazon, was the very same copy that I borrowed from the New York public library - with my dog-ears intact.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Self-Published Greatest Masterpieces of the 20th Century




In a 1966 National Educational Television network interview, Nabokov opined that the "greatest masterpieces of twentieth-century prose are, in this order: Joyce's Ulysses; Kafka's Transformation; Bely's St. Petersburg; and the first half of Proust's fairy tale, In Search of Lost Time." 

Coincidentally, Ulysses and In Search of Lost Time were self-published. Joyce and Proust weren't the only famous novelists to self-publish. For example, Upton Sinclair, Carl Sandburg, Ezra Pound and Mark Twain, to name a very few, were self-published as well. 

In some cases you could have a publisher/distributor but no money for printing like in the case of Henry Miller who needed Anaïs Nin to finance the printing of Tropic of Cancer.

Therefore, if you're having a hard time finding an agent and/or publisher you may consider joining the ranks of some very well-known self-published novelists and poets


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Proust Recommends The Charming Bounce Back Technique




To be a charismatic conversationalist Cabane recommends in The Charisma Myth that one use the Bounce Back Technique. The idea of the technique is to keep the conversation on the other person because people will find you charismatic if you allow them to talk about themselves. Many people make the mistake of hijacking conversations. 

For example, if someone volunteers, "I went to L.A. for the weekend." 

Don't respond, "I went to L.A. about two weeks ago too. I went to visit my sister. There was so much smog there. And so much traffic. But we went to a really nice..."

It's better to respond with questions like, "Oh, how was it?" "Why did you go there?" "How 
long were you there?"

Here's The Bounce Back Technique:


  1. Answer a query with a fact
  2. Add a personal note
  3. Redirect the query back to the questioner
e.g.,:

Question: "So, where are you moving to?"
Response: "To the East Village.[Fact] I need a lot of noise outside of my window to concentrate. [Personal note] Do you need silence to write? [Redirect]

And Botton relates in How Proust Can Change Your Life that Proust suggests that to be a good friend, one must keep the conversation on the other person.



Proust was of the understanding that one shouldn't assume that others are interested in his interests but that one should ask questions to avoid boring the listener. 


To be tactful, Proust recommends that one look to please others in his conversations by having them elaborate on their interests. And that one should abdicate his interests. 


Proust even opined that, ironically, the best friends are those that scorn friendships. Botton interprets Proust's position by writing that people who scorn friendships:

  • have more realistic expectations of "friendships"
  • avoid talking at length about themselves because they would rather avoid placing their life's in the fleeting and superficial medium of conversations
  • feel that "friendships" are a means to learn about others - not lecture
  • appreciate other's susceptibilities; thus, they feel that there is a need to show false amiability


Therefore, to be charming, tactful and a good "friend", one should use the Bound Back Technique in conversations. 







Thursday, May 21, 2015

Write for Pleasure, Publish for Money

Lolita and Mr. Girodias
by Vladimir Nabokov


According to Nabokov, Mr. Girodias of Olympia Press agreed to pay him "an advance of 400,000 "anciens" francs (about a thousand dollars)" for Lolita. The first half of the advance was one month late, but after Nabokov grew impatient waiting for the second half, he wrote to Mr. Girodias, "I write for my pleasure, but publish for money." (Evergreen Review)

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Use of Double Entendre in LOLITA and Shakespeare



I was reading the journal article A Filthy Look at Shakespeare's "Lolita" by Eric Naiman in an effort to study Nabokov's use of hidden meanings within Lolita. For example, upon the first reading one may miss the double-entendre in the following line from Lolita .


"My life was handled by little Lo in an energetic, matter-of-fact manner as if it were an insensate gadget unconnected with me."

It turns out that the French word for the sex organ (vit) is a homonym of the word for life. And if you consider that Lolita was twelve when she handled Humbert's life, the word life could be considered a double double-entendre. 

Rowe's Nabokov's Deceptive World has an entire chapter and an appendix devoted to Nabokov's use of sexual deception (i.e., sexual double entente). For example, Lolita wrote the following in a letter to her mother and Humbert from camp:

I [crossed out and re-written again] I lost my new sweater in the woods.(p. 76) [Nabokov's brackets.]

The reader gains the knowledge on page 98 that "sweater" is a reference to 12-year-old Lolita's virginity. The initial reference is to Lolita's "virgin wool sweater" and the subsequent reference is to Lo's virginity which she lost to Charlie in the woods at camp. 

But that's not all! Nabokov draws the reader's attention to the letter "I" by writing it once, crossing it out and writing it again. It turns out that "I" and "eye" are references to the "female sexual symbol".

Gently I pressed my quivering sting along her rolling salty eyeball. "Good-goody," she said nictating


Nabokov used the same literary technique that was used by Shakespeare which is spelled out in Eric Partridge's book Shakespeare's Bawdy. Here's an example of Shakespeare's use of double-entendre in the poem "Venus and Adonis":


‘Fondling,’ she saith, ‘since I have hemm’d thee here  
Within the circuit of this ivory pale,
I’ll be a park, and thou shalt be my deer;  
Feed where thou wilt, on mountain or in dale:  
Graze on my lips, and if those hills be dry,  
Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie.  
  
‘Within this limit is relief enough,  
Sweet bottom-grass and high delightful plain,  
Round rising hillocks, brakes obscure and rough,  
To shelter thee from tempest and from rain:  
Then be my deer, since I am such a park;  
No dog shall rouse thee, though a thousand bark.’  

The bold (pun intended) words are defined below:

park - the female body regarded as a domain where a lover may freely roam
deer - figuratively used of man and woman in reference to sexual activities. Possibly influenced by the homophone, (one's) dear or darling. 
mountain - pleasant eminences: breasts, buttocks, and thighs
dale - valley between breasts
fountain - breasts
bottom-grass - the hair growing in and about the crutch [i.e., pubic hair]
plain - belly 
hillock - buttocks
brakes - pubic hair

Why didn't we learn about Shakespeare's bawdy in high school? According to Partridge, Shakespeare's works were bowdlerized prior to the 1960s. 

And if that isn't interesting enough, what about the fact that Adonis was born of an incestuous relationship between Myrrha, a young nubile girl (i.e, nymphet), and Cinyras, her father. 


Monday, February 23, 2015

Was Michael Jordan Like d'Annunzio, Beethoven and Mozart?

Recently, I was in a hotel on Michael Jordan's birthday and ESPN was running a tribute to the great basketball player. In one of the segments Matt Doherty, Jordan's former teammate at the University of North Carolina, implied that Jordan's greatness was inherited from birth and that no matter how hard another basketball player worked, he couldn't achieve Jordan's stature. Needless to say, I was infuriated by Doherty's comments, because Jordan became a great basketball player through hard work. 

But Doherty is no anomaly in this instance. It is common for commoners to believe that great people were born great. For example, Shenk relates in The Genius in All of Us that people believed that Beethoven and Mozart could see music when they were born. But "[i]n truth, their ability to "see" music came only after years of intensive work-and in Beethoven's case, after horrific abuse. 




Even in fiction great people have to work hard to do well. A protagonist in Nabokov's The Gift was a very hard worker and a focused writer who avoided wasting time:

He worked so feverishly, smoked so much and slept so little that the impression he produced was almost frightening: skinny, nervy, his gaze at once blear and piercing, his hands shaky, his speech jerky and distracted (on the other hand he never suffered from headache and naively boasted of this as a mark of a healthy mind). His capacity for work was monstrous, as was, for that matter, that of most Russian critics of the last century. To his secretary Studentski, a former seminarist from Saratov, he dictated a translation of Schlosser's history and in between, while the latter was taking it down, he himself would go on writing an article for The Contemporary or would read something, making notes in the margins.




And how about Gabriele d'Annunzio who was arguably the greatest Italian poet of all time? Here's an excerpt from Hughes-Hallet biography. It exemplifies how d'Annunzio was a hard worker even as an adolescent:





I was infuriated by Doherty's comments, because it gives the impression that greatness comes from birth and cannot be achieved through hard work, self-confidence, and self-efficacy or through charisma as Cabane summed up in The Charisma Myth.