Jane's Open Road

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  • INTERVIEWED BY:

    Destination Unknown

  • INTERVIEW LOCATION:

    Carmel, CA

  • AIRED ON:

    Public Television: Season 1

  • ON DVD:

JANE SMILEY

Novelist
A Thousand Acres

“You stand a much better chance of being successful at something you really want to do than something you're only doing reluctantly.”

INTERESTS:

Writing

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Dedication Determination Experience Fear Individualism Simplicity Success

FOUNDATION:

Being Creative

TAGS:

challenge, humiliation

BIOGRAPHY:

  • Was never scared, never felt pressure to do well financially because she “was an idiot.”
  • Obtained a double degree in creative writing and medieval English literature from Iowa State University in 1978.
  • She was content to live a very simple life so that she could go to graduate school, write her novels.
  • Was “going along, writing her novels” and living this simple life until she won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, found sudden success.
  • Believes that you won’t be “humiliated” by starting at the bottom if you’re at the bottom of a ladder you really want to climb.
  • Likens building a career to learning to skateboard; “all those times you fell off, you weren’t bothered to be humiliated; you just wanted to do it.”
  • The people who are scared to fall or embarrassed to fail are “focused on the wrong thing,” “aren’t going to get anywhere.”
  • Says all of her friends who gave up their passions later felt “lost,” didn’t know who they were by the time they turned forty or fifty.

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