Specialization, with proper application, can be good.

Sci-fi author Robert Heinlein was obviously a perceptive man.

I bought this calligraphy from artist Colleen Kobe* several years ago. I was mesmerized by the richness of her elegant calligraphy (ants included) as well as the wisdom in Heinlein’s quote, and knew it was something I needed to hang with. I haven’t read his novel Time Enough for Love from which this quote was taken but these words are strong for me. I agree the more we can do for ourselves, the better. It tends to lessen our vulnerability and increase our self-empowerment. I can’t imagine arguing against either of those.

Ms Kobe said she read the quote while in high school: “It had a profound effect on the rest of my life. I’ve always tried to be interested in and try lots of new activities in life.”

You can take any vocation or avocation and fine tune an appropriate collection of “shoulds” for it. 

There are a good many times when I believe we must not “should” on ourselves, but in keeping with the real message of Mr. Heinlein’s succinct quote I couldn’t resist creating a list based on my experiences and observations to date– 

A writer should . . . 

Be willing to revise . . . or start over

Know how to listen

Want to see

Recognize junk words

Lay out a strategy

Track all submissions, queries and payments

Morally support other writers

Know when to speak up and when to shut up

Take what you want

Refuse what you don’t

Pat an editor on the back

Send handwritten thank you notes

Call someone up and ‘just ask’

Accept the “no,” but keep pursuing that “yes”

Back up computer files regularly

Expect no one to care . . .

Know that you always will.


* E-mail: cmk@colleenkobestudios.com


13 thoughts on “Specialization, with proper application, can be good.

  1. This might just be one of your best. I love the list you compiled and appreciate seeing the calligraphy and it’s message. You are a wonder in you prolific and yet consistently witty and insightful pieces. It’s a joy to read your blog.

  2. Yes, “Time Enough for Love” is probably not the best of his books for someone who has never read Heinlein before to start out on. On the other hand, I had tried to read “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” several times, and simply couldn’t get into it although I had read some other of his books by that time. Then when I was packing for a month-long business trip I threw it in just in case I got bored enough to read it. As soon as I finished it (I had no car, and could not do anything work-related outside the office for several reasons) I went right back and re-read it immediately, and now I have re-read that book more times than any other of his books, probably eight or ten times. So trust me when I say he is an author you should not give up on just because you have difficulty reading one, or even several, of his books.

    If mathematics doesn’t scare you (like a discussion of a tesseract), you might try his short story “And He Built a Crooked House” which I first read in Recreational Mathematics Magazine while I was in High School. On the other hand, if that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, his short story “By His Bootstraps” is one of the better time travel stories I’ve ever read. It’s enough to give you a headache thinking about the twists in the plot. Any of his Juveniles are also probably safe to start on, although “The Door Into Summer” has to be one of my personal favorites (and again a time travel theme – he used it at least two other places besides these two, a short story “All You Zombies…”, but it’s a bit wierd; and a novel “Farnham’s Freehold”, also one of my favorites – but a LONG one).

    There are other books by him I could recommend, but it’s late and I’ve already been far too long winded… If you want more ideas, you know where to find me.

  3. Yeah well…

    There is no way that writers can be tamed and rendered civilized or even cured. The only solution known to science is to provide the patient with an isolation room, where he can endure the acute stages in private and where food can be poked in to him with a stick.
    Robert A. Heinlein

    • I’d be willing to bet that you’ve read all of his stuff. You’ll have to educate me. Someone told me NOT to start reading him with this particular book, however. They said to start out “earlier and slower” on him . . .

      What’s the fun in being “cured,” anyway??!! :-p

  4. A great list. I’ll print it when I get home and then begin working to be sure that I work on those items on the list I’m not getting done now.

  5. Love your adaptation, Bec! You make me realize that sometimes the winner is the one who’s most tenacious. Or committed. Good work!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s