Freelancer’s Survival Guide: Role Models

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Artwork donated by Pati Nagle.

The Freelancer’s Survival Guide: Role Models

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The past few weeks, we’ve had a pretty lively discussion of behavior and the professional freelancer.  If you haven’t done so, go back and read the comments sections in the two posts on jealousy and in last week’s post on courtesy.

In addition to those comments, I’ve received great e-mails from folks, some detailing terrible behavior by professionals, and some discussing some absolutely wonderful behavior.  It’s nice to see the upside, considering how egregious some of the downsides were.  Thanks for sharing, everyone.

I’ve been thinking about this all week, particularly the kafuffle that has appeared on some boards (and in some blog posts) still defending envy as a learning tool, and trying to discuss envy in ways that make it less harmful.

I finally came to the conclusion that we’re mixing apples and cats here.  What’s going on is twofold.  First, we as freelancers need role models because most of us do not have a training program that teaches us how to run our business. And second, we’re not sure how to behave when a friend whom we thought of as a peer leapfrogs us and achieves one (or many) of our goals.

I’m going to deal with both issues in this post.  Most of this will be about role models from two different sides—why we create them and what happens when we become one.

We all have role models, even those of us who have gone through some kind of professional training before we open our own businesses.  It’s the nature of human beings.  Anyone who has watched a child visibly mimic an adult knows that this is hardwired in our species, maybe even in mammals. I remember watching one of my nieces at the age of three or so try (and fail) to copy my mother’s sitting position.  Mom was wearing a dress and had her legs crossed at the ankles and twisted to the side like a debutante.  My niece could cross her legs at the ankles but she couldn’t handle the twist, and she nearly fell off the chair as she tried to reproduce the entire look.

I just watched my youngest cat do the same thing with the oldest cat in the house.  The young cat spent most of a month trying to learn how to sleep on her back, all four paws in the air.  She couldn’t get the balance right. She’d look at the older cat, then try to achieve the exact same position.

My youngest cat does everything the oldest cat does, in the exact same way, clearly modeling herself on the Queen of the House.  The oldest cat is our most successful cat—every other cat is afraid of her and lets her do exactly what she wants—and clearly the youngest cat sees her as an authority on everything.  We have photos of our oldest cat doing the same thing with her role model, the charismatic alpha male who ran our household more than a decade ago.

So the modeling behavior is built in.  We all do it, especially when we don’t have a clear path to follow.  We try to invent a path from scratch, using our understanding of someone else’s path to pave our own.

I underlined that last part for a reason.  We don’t know someone else’s path exactly, nor could we replicate it properly even if we tried. The differences come in personality, background, environment, and in the world itself.

There’s a beautiful example of this type of modeling in the movie, Julie and Julia.  (If you haven’t seen the film and care about spoilers, skip the rest of this paragraph and the next two paragraphs.)  Julie Powell chooses Julia Child as her role model, deciding to cook every recipe in The Art of French Cooking in the space of a year.  (If you’ve ever looked at this cookbook, you know what a daunting task that is.)  Powell’s obsession with Julia Child, as portrayed in the film, goes to dressing in 1950s/60s attire, mimicking one of the dinner parties that Child held, and in reading everything she could about her role model.  Powell makes pronouncements about who she believes Child to be—thinking that Julia Child would never have been defeated by a flawed soufflé, Julia Child would never have burst into tears about a burned dinner—and uses those pronouncements to change herself and buck herself up.

I found that part of the film fascinating, because the Julia Child I remember was a buffoonish woman who often appeared on television drunk.  I remembered thinking that Dan Ackroyd’s imitation of Julia Child on Saturday Night Live wasn’t that different from the real thing, since I never saw the early Julia Child, the one who changed a nation’s cooking habits.

But be that as it may, the imagined Julia Child became important to Julie Powell—and helped her through some very difficult times.  Then Powell’s quest made the news, she sold a book, and some reporter asked Child what she thought of Powell.  And Child said she did not approve. The reporter told Powell to get her reaction.  She didn’t give any reaction over the phone, but the very idea shattered her.  The climax of Powell’s story in the film deals with the loss of the dream of approval by her role model.

Which I can understand.  I learned a long time ago that people’s public personas are very different from their private ones.  Perhaps that’s because I was groped constantly as a cute young reporter by major politicians who thought touching me was their due.  Or maybe it was because at Clarion Writers Workshop,  I learned that writers are nothing like their writing.  You can’t tell who someone is by what parts of themselves they put forward for public view.

Those realizations didn’t stop me from having role models.  It just stopped me from wanting to meet them and getting disillusioned.  I’ve met a few of my writing role models over the years, and in all instances I’ve acted like a complete dork. I couldn’t talk to two of them—me, the former broadcaster, the woman who can talk to anyone (and has).  I couldn’t get a word out of my mouth.

I have fled from a few others, and I’ve vacated the room before my biggest role model showed up at an event at a speaking engagement.  Can’t, won’t, don’t wanna deal.  Just don’t.

Why don’t I want to meet someone I’ve admired from afar for years? Because, like Julie Powell in Julie and Julia, I don’t want my image of my role model shattered.  Because I have needed that image over the years.  It was one of those pillars on which I built my career.

Here’s how I see it:  As I said above, most freelance careers are put together by observation and pluck.  We have no guidelines.  We make our own rules.  So we try to find someone to emulate, someone whose career we claim we want, someone who is doing what we want to do and doing it well.  Then we walk the same path—or what we imagine to be the same path—as our role model, struggling to survive, telling ourselves stories about our imaginary companion.  Clearly, we say, this problem didn’t bother our role model when really, how do we know?  Publicly it didn’t bother our role model, or maybe our role model never experienced the same problem.  We have no idea.

But we use that handhold to pick ourselves up and keep going.

The role models become not just a beacon on a dark road, but a railing that we use to pull ourselves up.  And for those of us who become successful, it works.  Whatever we tell ourselves about these role models becomes part of our stories, whether it’s true for the role model or not.

We’re using the outlines of a real person to build a fictional person—a kind of spirit guide for our careers, for lack of a better metaphor.  And then we follow that guide as far as we possibly can.

I think this is what some of you folks were talking about when you were discussing the importance of envy.  And I think you were using the wrong word.  You—we all—need someone to emulate.  There’s a line in a Paul Simon song that has reached out to me this past year: what do we do when our role model is gone?  When we’ve outgrown that role model?

Some of us find another.

I would reckon it’s rather hard for someone of Paul Simon’s level of success to find another role model.  Especially one in his own industry.  Because Simon himself has become a role model for hundreds, maybe thousands of others.

Which segues to the next part of this section.  Eventually, as we become successful in the various parts of our lives, we will become a role model for someone else.

That’s a tough position to be in, as Michael Phelps learned in 2008 when he got photographed taking a hit off a bong.  Tiger Woods is learning the same lesson right now.  A lot of people, including my husband, are very disappointed in him. While Dean’s upset about the way Tiger has hurt golf (Dean used to be a professional golfer), a lot of parents are upset because this seemingly upstanding role model had a secret double life.

We all have secret lives.  Those lives may not be as dramatic as Tiger’s (my mind boggles at keeping all those relationships straight!), but they are private and they are ours.

The problem with being a role model is that the people who look up to us don’t see us as entirely human.  Look at the section above. Role models are imagined—taken from the shape of another person, but not actually that other person. So in no way can someone who looks up to you know exactly who you are.

And it’s not your responsibility to tell them.  I think some of the disillusionment in the Professional Courtesy section—including my own examples—comes from the disconnect between the imagined and the real.  You, as a role model, can’t prevent the disappointment, although you can be courteous to the person who admires you.  Respect that little bit of what Dean calls the gosh-wows.  Something that you did or suggested or implied became important to the person before you.  You don’t even need to know what that something was (and you probably don’t want to know).  But you should understand that whatever it was, it had an impact on the other person.  Treat them gently.

I’ve watched a lot of people try to make themselves into just another human being to the fan in front of them, and the fan deny what they’re hearing.  I think you’re better off saying thank you and letting them ask questions—if any.  If they do ask, answer honestly.  But if they don’t, don’t volunteer.

Of course, here I’m dealing with someone you don’t know.  All of us become role models to people we do know.  And sometimes we become active role models—parents are automatically role models for their children, and often so are older siblings or extended family members.  Then it is your obligation to pay attention, to try to be the best you can, whatever that means—and within the realm of being a person as well.

I think one of the most important aspects of being a role model is showing that, as humans, we  have flaws and we do make mistakes. But we try to correct the mistakes, and to grow as human beings.

You can’t be that kind of role model to a stranger, but you certainly can to children or the people around you.

I think the trickiest position to be in, however, is not a person who needs a role model (in other words, all of us) or the person who is a role model (most of us), but the person who watches a friend cross from peer to success.

When you work in the arts, like I do, or in some very difficult endeavor, like national politics, you often do not have role models nearby.  If you want to be successful on an international level, like I did, or to have a lifetime career in an area that chews people up, like I do, then you won’t find a lot of role models in your own backyard (unless you’re lucky enough to be raised in one of those families like the Bridges family—you know, Lloyd Bridges, Jeff Bridges, Beau Bridges—a family with a history of success in a particular industry).  You have to make strangers your role models, which leads to a lot of imaginary role models like the ones I described above.

I met my first professional writer in college, poet Galway Kinnell, who turned out to be a wonderful, generous man—at least with college students.  Most of the writers I met, with the exception of the Canadian literary writer I mentioned last week, were gracious and very giving of their time.  They were the first actual people I met who had some measure of success in my dream job.

But I had wanted to be a professional fiction writer for nearly ten years before I met my first fiction writer.  So I developed a lot of role models, from bits and pieces of public information about my favorite writers.  And I cobbled together a career path that has alternately worked and hurt me.  It worked because it gave me a way to walk, and hurt because I can’t achieve what they achieved.  No one has the same career as someone else—and certainly not on the same timetable.  As a musician friend of mine said woefully when he turned 40, “I’ve lived longer than Mozart, and I’m not one-one-hundredth as successful.”

Yep.  I’ve felt that way at times, and that’s when the role model thing hurts.  Of course, we never look at the downside of our role models.  Mozart was buried in a pauper’s grave.  I doubt he thought of himself as a success at the very end.

When you design your own role models as many of us do, then you get used to the idea that they’re imaginary.  That’s one of the reasons I don’t want to meet a few of my earliest role models.  I don’t want the real person to impinge upon the imagined.

The problem is when the idea of success becomes imaginary too.

As freelancers, a lot of us work in professions that are “too hard to succeed in,” or “impossible to make a living at.” We’re “not strong enough” to handle the difficulties, “not special enough” to get noticed, “not talented enough” to climb to the top.  We really should “give up” and “get a real job” and stop “daydreaming” or “wasting time” or “fooling around.”

These attitudes, from well-meaning friends and family, are so common that most successful people cite them in their autobiographies or in interviews or in songs (my favorite of which is by George Thorogood and the Destroyers, “Get a Haircut and Get a Real Job.”)  These phrases add to the idea that success is illusory, impossible, and unattainable.

Yet we continue to try, because we’re following a dream.

We find other people who are trying, and we band together—a group of hobbits against an impossible foe.

And then, one day, one of our little band breaks out.  They sell a story or they open a shop or they win an election.  They achieve a measure of success.

Success that, until this moment, has been illusory.

And suddenly, the rest of us have a dilemma.  Because this takes our little quest from the realm of illusion into the realm of reality.  The success of one of our peers challenges all of our assumptions, the greatest of which exist in our imagination.

Think about this: Imaginary role models—that we know, down in our heart of hearts, aren’t the real person; impossible success—that we believe, deep down, we’ll probably never achieve and that’s okay; the important thing is the journey, or so we say.

And then—the success becomes real.  A real person, a person we know, achieves it.  That person is not and never has been a role model. That person is a friend or at least a compatriot.  A person whom we’ve seen at her best and at her worst, a person with flaws, who doesn’t always react well to criticism or who isn’t as talented as we are.  A person who clearly isn’t perfect, any  more than the rest of us in our merry little band.

So what have they gone and done? They’ve shattered our illusions.  And that’s why we often react badly to them.  Not because we’re jealous or envious.  But because we’re scared.

Rather than show us the path, they’ve blurred it.  Rather than becoming superhuman as they achieved the impossible, they achieved it while remaining their imperfect, very human selves.

They knocked the railing out from underneath us, destroyed the underpinning of our belief system.

Some of us bounce back from this better than others.  Some of us have been disillusioned enough in our lives to understand how to rebuild.  But for some of us, this is the first time we’ve seen behind the curtain, the first time that we realized the Great Oz is just a guy from Kansas, blown in on a storm like the rest of us.

What most of us don’t do is step outside ourselves, and start asking, Just how did a guy from Kansas become the Great Oz?  How did he survive in this strange and hostile world? What’s he doing that I’m not doing?

It’s hard to step from illusion to reality.  But that’s part of growing up, as both a person and as a freelancer. Eventually, you have to realize that you’re walking on your own path, one you’ve been forging from the very first time you figured out your dream, and you have to value that path.  You’re a trailblazer in your own life, whether you want to be or not.

I still have role models.  But I tend not to idealize them any longer.  Instead, I take bits and pieces from a lot of them.  I want to write for at least as many decades as Jack Williamson did.  I want to die at my desk, a working (and still publishing) writer, like Robert B. Parker did last month.  I want to continually improve my skills like both Stephen King and Joyce Carol Oates do.

In other words, I’m still creating an imaginary role model, but the shape I’m using is my own.  The bits and pieces I use to create it are inspired by other writers, and other artists, and other businesspeople.

I know that disillusionment is part of the business, but I try not to stay disillusioned for long.  And when I find something that disappoints, I try to remove it from my imaginary role model and substitute something else.

Which makes me—and my imaginary role model—a work in progress.

Which is as it should be, I guess.

I’m just feeling my way around this Guide, trying to figure out what’s important and what isn’t.  You folks have helped tremendously with that.  I have a hunch that had I written this as a nonfiction book with no input from outside, it would have been less interesting and a lot less challenging for me.

So thanks for the comments, e-mails, and the donations. Remember that I’ll give an e-copy of the Guide to anyone who donates, when this thing is done, which is taking a while partly because of the interactivity (not a complaint!) and partly because I keep thinking of more stuff to tell you.  Thanks, everyone!





“Freelancer Writer’s Survival Guide: Role Models” copyright 2010 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

16 responses to “Freelancer’s Survival Guide: Role Models”

  1. […] Kristine Kathryn Rusch with insight on role models for writers. This is just one of her great Freelancer’s Survival Guide […]

  2. In my experience, the same percentage of writers are jerks as the percentage in the regular population. There are those I will refuse to be on a panel with at a convention (not that it would matter, because those writers won’t let anyone else speak anyway) and there are those who I would sacrifice small children for…in a good way. My basic rule for any model is “Take what you need and leave the rest…”

    Good post.

    Scott Nicholson

  3. I just wanted to jump here and say thanks, Kris. I’ve been reading this series with great interest and back reading the ones I missed as I have time. The last couple of ones on jealousy, courtesy, and role models have really struck a cord with me.

    Like you, I have avoided meeting a few of my role models. One when I was 15, everyone thought I was crazy to not take the opportunity, but as time drew close I found I just couldn’t participate in the clinic that this horse trainer was hosting. I was so worried that he wouldn’t live up to my image of him. Especially since it was urban legend that he could be very mean.

    But on the other side I also met a horse trainer that wrote the very first horse training book I’d ever read (at 13) several years ago and he was just as friendly and unassuming in person as his books and training videos made him out to be. That was fun. On the note, of not putting down fans, he was also courteous and thanked me when I told him that his first book was the very first training book I’d ever read. He had long autograph lines each day and I happened to be stationed near him and saw him exhibit that same behavior with every single fan that came up to him and he never acted tired or pressed for time. I think this was helped by the fact that he had several handlers that did the “dirty work”. LOL Was fascinating watching them as well.

    • Kris says:

      I don’t think it’s an onus, Brad. I think if you’re kind and courteous, you just naturally represent your group. I like your post, here, Angelia. That second trainer is exactly what I’m talking about. He knew why he was there, and was as good to his fans as he could be. How nice. (And you’ll never know, Pati. )

  4. Kris, one of my goals when my wife and I moved back to flyover country was to make sure my Dad knew how I felt. In the last 2 years he and I have spent more quality time together — meaningful, talkative quality time — than we did in the 20 years prior. He now knows how I feel, and how much I look up to him, to the point I think he’s sorta embarrassed. A very humble and unassuming fellow, Dad. One more reason he impresses me.

    Back to topic…

    Charles Barkley is quoted as saying he doesn’t think sports players should be role models — especially for kids. In light of the Tiger Woods revelations, Charles has yet again been proven right. And will doubtless be proven right every time some jock juices up, does drugs, sleeps around, or gets caught being a hoodlum.

    I am also reminded of the scene from the movie The Right Stuff where Scott Glenn — as Alan Shepard — and Ed Harris — as John Glenn — are arguing about the obligations each of the Mercury 7 have; as public figures. Now, whether this conversation is apocryphal or not, it’s one of the more memorable scenes from that movie, for me, because of the points it makes. Namely, that the astronauts are just pilots doing a job, and nobody has the right to tell them what to do when they’re not in the cockpit. On the other hand — and also true — is the fact that whether they want it or deserve it, the Mercury 7 have become celebrities, which carries with it a higher obligation to behave in an upstanding manner, because the public is watching and the astronauts are role models for millions — especially kids. They also represent NASA and the astronaut corps, so if one of them gets caught with his pants around his ankles, the entire program gets caught with its pants around its ankles.

    In my military life I am keenly aware that civilians are watching me — and all the rest of us. When one of us f***s up, it makes us all look like f***-ups. Abu Grhaib being one of the more notorious examples in recent times. And believe me, everyone who wears the uniform with pride was sickened and angered beyond belief at those events, not only because they were stupid and horrible on a human level, they made the rest of us look like a bunch of sadistic weirdos. And that’s just not OK.

    Every time an author — especially a prominent author — goes out anywhere to be seen, the onus is on them to “represent,” as it were. Many don’t care, and behave however they damn well want, and I guess that’s their right. But sooner or later, if enough fans have bad experiences — aspirants and new writers too — the reputation kind of pancakes out on all of us, and suddenly the authorial community as a “rep,” and it’s not always a good one.

  5. Pati Nagle says:

    This made me curious know who your super-role model is, Kris!

    One of my writing role models is Georgette Heyer. I love her books, and I want to be able to write stories that people love as much as I love hers.

    I admire her writing and I admire her success. That said, I don’t think my writing resembles hers that much, but that’s fine. I don’t want to BE her, I just want to be LIKE her in certain respects.

  6. James A. Ritchie says:

    Something about role models and writers just popped into my head.

    As kid, I had no father figure in teh house. I did have a grandfather, and I tink he was a good role model, but he dies when I was very young, and I need a role model, someone to look up to and model myself after.

    I that my role models, all right. I found them in the pages of Louis L’Amour’s Sackett novels. One character in particular, William Tell Sackett, became the standard I gauged myself by.

    Tell Sackett was honorable, tough, never backed up and never backed down. He never looked for trouble, but never dodged it when it came his way. He treated people with respect, he helped those who needed help, he worked hard, he was everything I wanted to be, and I got through my teen years, and well into adulthood, by asking myself what Tell Sackett would do in a given situation.

    Not that modeling yourself after a character in a novel is without problems. Tell may have been shot, punched, betrayed, etc., but in the end he always won his fights. I usually won mine, but now and then I was glad someone stopped a fight before I had to get back up again.

    The thing is, I took having Tell Sackett as a role model seriously, and, as a writer, it gives me something to think about. Even if I’m never a role model, and I hope I am to my own kids, it’s always possible that one of my character will be.

    I strongly suspect that our characters often have a greater influence on the young than we might think, wheter it’s just taking a Huckleberry Finn raft down a loacl creek, or wondering what Tell Sackett would do when a bully about twice your size starts pushing a friend of yours around at school.

    When I write, I can’t help but wonder about this.

  7. James A. Ritchie says:

    For me, there are two types of role models. One is the successful public model, and all I use them for is good business practice, how hard to try, etc. But I think it’s dangerous to allow a public figure to become a role model for behavior. It’s too disappointing when the public mask slips and we see what they really are.

    It’s even more disappointing to watch otehrs do the same stupid or harmful things because their role model did.

    My personal conduct, my sense of morality, comes from role models I know intimately. I knew how they behave, what they’re really like, from watching them in situations where those with clay feet, or those who merely put on a public mask, would have fallen. The behave the way they do because they firmly believe it’s the right way to behave, not because they fear someone might be watching.

  8. Great article, Kris. Makes me think of when I met you and Dean and Nina and Ray all the other writers back in Eugene when I was all of 19 years old. For me, instead of disillusioning me, it was actually very empowering. I was able to look around the room at that workshop and say, hey, you know, none of these folks are really much smarter or more talented than me. They might be older and more experienced, but mostly, they’ve just worked at this harder. Until then the idea of becoming a professional writer was pretty murky; that made the path much clearer. So it was a moment of reckoning, a moment when I was forced to see writers as real human beings just like me, but in a very good way.

    It also made me how much harder I had to work at it.

    • Kris says:

      Exactly, Scott. That’s closer to peer-to-peer, but not quite. And you were lucky to be in Eugene, when there were a lot of writers who were just beginning to make it. The timing was good for you. Folks who were unpublished when the rest of us were unpublished had a lot more trouble with it. I learned hard work from journalism and from my buddy Kevin J. Anderson. And my own natural tendencies. I get bored too easily to loaf around much. 🙂 Wish I’d had a workshop like that one when I was nineteen. 🙂

  9. Steve perry says:

    Nicely done, Kris. Not bad for a white girl …

    • Kris says:

      Oh, I love that quote, Jill. I didn’t know that. (And I’ve always used the other quote about Ginger Rodgers: She did everything Fred did–backwards, and in heels. Which I greatly admire. Great comment.)

      Yep, Brad, you got the disillusionment in one. I hope you show that middle section to your father. That’s quite a tribute.

  10. Drat, the above should have read, “Mentors, meanwhile are also not put on pedestals.”

  11. Wow, such a thought-provoking post, Kris.

    This makes me think of my Carl Sagan fan days. In my teens and early 20’s I re-discovered the COSMOS series on VHS at the local library, and remembered loving the series as a small child. Pretty soon I was buying Sagan’s books, and when he died in 1996 I set up a memorial web site to him, praising him endlessly, etc. I joined a mailing list dedicated to Sagan, and through which we all carried on about how terrific he was. I even wrote Ann Druyan and briefly corresponded with her, about how awesome I believed Carl to have been — though I had next to nothing to base any of my feelings on, other than what I saw on TV and what I read in books.

    Then my wife bought me a ferociously-researched, candid bio of Sagan, and the scales fell from my eyes. I eventually shut down the web site and am now not a Sagan fan anymore — I am a huge fan of COSMOS though, and own it on DVD. But Sagan? No, not really.

    Sagan, as a person, was so flawed — in ways that I found disturbing at multiple levels — I couldn’t feel the same about him ever again. I’d put him on a high, high pedestal, and when I found out what the real Sagan was like, it was a fistfull of reality therapy. Granted, I was still getting my info second-hand, from a bio some people say is too harsh on Sagan. But if I had created a mythic hero on the one side, the bio made me question enough of my assumptions about my mythic hero I could never again look at the man the same on the other side.

    He’d been humanized, almost to a fault. And I felt rather embarrassed to have carried on the way I did.

    Since then I’ve been very, very careful to distinguish between what I call role models (aka: heroes!) and mentors (aka: teachers.) And to be honest, I have just one hero now. And he’s not a writer nor a celebrity of any sort. Nobody knows who he is, and he is just fine with that.

    My hero is my father. And not because he’s on a pedestal but because as I have grown older and become a father myself, I have come to understand intimately all the challenges and hardships and temptations he faced — as I was growing up, and before I was even born — and I feel a genuine sense of awe that I don’t think can be taken away. Because I know the man and I know his faults and his flaws, and it’s because he has managed to live such a good and honorable life — in spite of his faults — having worked so hard, been such a stalwart and dedicated husband and father, and managed to find joy in the simple things of the earth, that he has come to represent for me the things I truly want to be. I want to be where he is now, at his age, when I reach that age too. Moreover, I want to apply some of the wisdom he’s learned — hard widsom — so that the lessons he’s tried to pass to me have not been in vain.

    Mentors, meanwhile, are not put on pedestals. I have a select few of them. I’d say that you, Kris, and Dean, have gradually become mentors for me. As I’ve invested more time and — now — money, reading your blogs and coming to workshops and deciding that there is knowledge and valuable direction available from you both that I’ve not found anywhere else. I’m old enough to know better than to expect either you or Dean to be a personal ‘model’ for me, rather I have come to trust that you can offer me professional wisdom that helps me form my own, independent idea of what I want to do, where I want to go, and what “success” will look like. If you ‘model’ anything, it’s dogged success over a very long period, but beyond this I don’t expect that your shit doesn’t stink. Such an expectation would be unfair to everyone involved.

    Great post, Kris. Excellent food for thought.

  12. Jill Q says:

    Hear, hear. Ginger Rodgers is one of my role models. Am I dancer? No. Am I an actress? No. Do I agree with her (very conservative) political views? Def. not. But this is why Ginger is my writing role model.
    “All the girls I ever danced with thought they couldn’t do it, but of course they could. So they always cried. All except Ginger. No no, Ginger never cried.” – Fred Astaire
    So when I suffer from writing disappointment or writing laziness, I just tell myself “Ginger never cried” and try to keep on. Ginger made look every moment with Fred Astaire looked delightful, which was clearly hard work at times. That’s my goal, make the finished product delightful and enjoyable even if the process isn’t always.

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