My new motto: “You have to do the work.”


I am never one who’s into mottos. (OK, I had two mottos when I was young. The first was, “In any competition, there is always a winner”, just in case that winner was not me. The second was, “Your left hand always has your right hand as a friend”, just in case I was lonely.)

Now I am much advanced in age and supposedly wiser. As a writer, translator and Chinese ebook publisher, I also keep an eye out for new literary trends and, of course, new authors. These days there is an incredible amount of suggestions and tips out there on how to create, publish and market one’s books. Yet, the more I read, the more I realize that all those people — professionals and amateurs, authors, agents and publishers, traditionalists and indies, etc — are actually saying only one thing:

“You have to do the work.”

And I have decided to adopt this very wise saying as my motto. To me, it surely beats clichés such as “There is no free lunch” and “Rome isn’t built in one day”. It is even better than “God helps those who help themselves”, which I always like.

Yes, you have to do the work, whether you are a writer, translator, publisher, literary critic or even reader. There are suggestions, tips, secrets and even shortcuts, but you still have to do the work if you ever want to achieve your goal. You can cry, complain, go sulky or throw yourself against the wall, or you can get depressed and let time waste away. In the end, you are still the one who has to do the work.

Somehow this motto helps me settle down and concentrate on my work, which ranges from answering queries and drafting publishing agreements to translating books and editing manuscripts, to designing covers and writing book reviews, to maintaining two websites, three blogs, two Twitter accounts and two Facebook pages. This is such a heavy workload that I often despair. But whenever I think of this motto, I am able to get up and get going again.

I tell myself that I can do this. Since I have to do the work, I may as well do my best and make myself proud.

Well, I hope this will help encouraging those who are experiencing the so-called “temporary setbacks”. You are not alone, never. But, still, you have to do the work.


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