Working Hard or Hardly Working? ~ Outside the Margins with Atom Yang

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Working Hard or Hardly Working?


When I was in high school, I remember it was the thing to act like something didn’t take a lot of effort. This essay? I wrote it thirty minutes before class started. This story? I wrote it off the top of my head and didn’t even revise it.


It was important to show that you had talent, that you were a natural, and that you were good at something without having to work at it, because only people who weren’t good at something needed to practice—and you didn’t want to be them, you wanted to be good already.


I’m not sure why developing skills and learning got such a bad rap. Maybe it’s because when someone of some stature performed their skill, it seemed effortless and we wanted to be just like them–except without all those pesky hours of practice and nasty bruises to both body and ego.


This desire to be perfect is poison. See, the word “perfection” comes from the Latin perfectus, meaning (thoroughly) completed—as in done and no more. The word “excellence,” on the other hand, is derived from the Latin excellere, meaning to surpass—to go beyond (limitations).


One sounds like death and the other sounds like being alive to me.


You know, I read one time how Picasso exhibited a sketch or line drawing he had made, and someone sneered and asked him, “How long did it take you to do that?” His answer? “All of my life.”


Another thing I read is that if we want to get good at something, we need to engage in deliberate practice (of specific skills) for at least four hours every single day. Or, that we have about “ten thousand pages of crap” inside us before we get to the good stuff.


It would be easier for us to believe we’re good already. It’s harder to say, “We’d better get cracking.”


These days, the thought of taking a long time to write something (or to get it published) no longer makes me feel incompetent. Impatient, sure, and whether I want to handle the practicalities of this profession—but not that I can’t or that I’m not meant to write.


And the fact that I can write quickly is also no longer proof of genius, but proof that I’ve worked hard to become efficient.


So this post I “whipped up”?


It took all of my life to write.

~Atom Yang

Title: Herc & Pyotr
Author: Atom Yang
Publisher: MLR Press
Publication Date: 03/24/2016
Cover Artist: Kris Jacen
Genre: Action/Adventure, Apocalyptic/dystopian, Contemporary, Drama, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, Gay Romance, Humor/Comedy, Romance, Science Fiction


Herc thought he had the perfect life: a great partner and a meaningful career as a psychotherapist—until his partner left him a week ago and Herc became too depressed to see his clients. When a random meteorite punched a tidy hole in his car’s engine, it seemed like the world had it in for him, but bumping into Pyotr, the handsome older man who’s moved in a couple of doors down and happens to study things like falling stars, life might be looking up for Herc—and more may be falling than the skies in this light-hearted, apocalyptic romance.


Herc & Pyotr on Goodreads
MLR Press
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

About Atom Yang

AtomYangPicApril292016Atom was born to Chinese immigrant parents who thought it’d be a hoot to raise him as an immigrant, too–so he grew up estranged in a familiar land, which gives him an interesting perspective. He’s named after a Japanese manga (comic book) character, in case you were wondering.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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6 thoughts on “Working Hard or Hardly Working? ~ Outside the Margins with Atom Yang

  1. I remember being approached several years ago, and asked if I’d read a short story an acquaintance wrote. They wanted feedback, and to know if it was worthy of publishing. I read it, offered as much as I could in terms of suggestions, correcting grammar etc, and sent it back to them. They were silent about it for over a month. And when I e-mailed to ask how the revisions were going, they responded with “I’m not doing that. It’s too much work.”

    I’ve never wanted to stab someone with a pencil so much in my life.

    • I hear you. I think that’s what separates the wheat from the chaff: those who are willing to do the work and those who are not. However, I get less stabby when they admit, confess, and accept they aren’t willing to do the work, rather than railing at the heavens for not acknowledging their (delusions of) grandeur.

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