Your Last Piece Doesn't Write Your Next One

“In some twenty months, I had submitted half a dozen pieces [to the New Yorker], short and long, and the editor, William Shawn, had bought them all. You would think that by then I would have developed some confidence in writing a new story, but I hadn’t, and never would. To lack confidence at the outset seems rational to me. It doesn’t matter that something you’ve done before worked out well. Your last piece is never going to write your next one for you. Square 1 doesn’t become Square 2, just Square 1 squared and cubed.”

John McPhee, “Structure,” The New Yorker, January 14, 2013, p. 46
(abstract available here, on the New Yorker website)


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