Many people write me who want to know how they can become successful writers. I only have my experience to go on and since we are all snowflakes and blah blah blah, I turned to several best-selling writers I know and asked them. First up: Meghan Daum.
Meghan is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author whose latest collection of original essays The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, won the 2015 PEN Center USA Award for creative nonfiction. She is also the editor of the New York Times bestseller Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not To Have Kids. Then there’s the essay collection My Misspent Youth, the novel The Quality of Life Report, and the memoir Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House.
She’s also been an opinion columnist at The Los Angeles Times since 2005, covering cultural and political topics—an excellent gig for her since she happens to have a great many opinions. Other credits include writing for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and Vogue. She is the recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and is an adjunct associate professor in the MFA Writing Program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.
When I asked her the biggest issue she’s had to overcome in her writing career, here’s what she told me:
My biggest issue has been wanting people to like everything that I’ve written or agree with everything that I say. It was actually a great liberation to realize that if everyone does like it and agrees with it, that’s actually a failed endeavor. What you want is to have equal amounts people hating it and loving it. I always say, “No one is going to love you unless somebody hates you.”