What It Takes

The Final Deadline

By Callie Oettinger | 45 Comments

December 1, 2010, Steve introduced the “What It Takes” column with his introductory article of the same name, “What It Takes”. Shawn’s first article in the series, “Getting the Meeting”, went live December 3, 2010, with an introduction by Steve that stated:

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To Melissa Sugar

By Callie Oettinger | 27 Comments

Melissa, You’ve been on my mind this week. First: Thank you for the comment you posted last Friday. Second: I thought about sending you a private email or posting a reply to your comment, but thought that maybe someone else might want to read this, who knows that hole that feels so good to hide in, but has room for little other than Sorrow.

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Do This Every Day

By Callie Oettinger | 47 Comments

It was 1990-something. I was working in a small mom-and-pop publishing house just down I95 from Health Communications, the publisher of Chicken Soup for the Soul. My boss wanted a series just like that.

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Glove Before Stick

By Shawn Coyne | 25 Comments

From the archives, via September 16, 2011. Fifteen years ago, I worked at St. Martin’s Press. It was (and still is) one of the big six publishing players. If ever there is a sitcom about book publishing, it should be set in the 1990s at St. Martin’s Press. What a cast of characters… Anyway, the head of the company was a man named Thomas McCormack, a real autocrat with more than a few eccentricities. Every day, Tom would order a tuna fish sandwich and a small cup of Vanilla ice cream from the ancient delicatessen across the street (http://www.eisenbergsnyc.com/). He…

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Art and Polarity

By Shawn Coyne | 45 Comments

From the archives, via June 20, 2012. The other day I overhead this conversation: Man #1: “I ran into Frank Smith (not his real name) at the beach yesterday…” Man #2: “Isn’t that the guy who cheated on his wife, got a DWI, and said all of those nasty things about Jill’s daughter in law?” Man #1: “…Well…yes…but I try not to judge.” I run into this “I don’t judge” stuff a lot and it infuriates me on many levels. But as this is a blog about what it takes to create art, I’ll just address why this “moral position”…

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Brian Wilson, Warren Buffett, Albert Einstein, and Ruth Stone

By Callie Oettinger | 22 Comments

From the archives, via May 5, 2017. In the documentary Beach Boys: The Making of Pet Sounds, Al Jardine said Brian Wilson “sees things I don’t think the rest of us see and hears things, certainly, that we don’t hear. He has a special receiver going on in there, in his brain.” What is that special, indefinable “it” about Brian Wilson? Is it really related to seeing, hearing, and receiving? And, if it is, what’s different about how he sees, hears, and receives? What of the rest of us? Why aren’t we all walking around composing “God Only Knows” or any…

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A Correction: Nothing Always Works With Everyone

By Callie Oettinger | 14 Comments

Last Friday I wrote that the list of things below always work. Hard work has always worked. Being honest has always worked. Doing the right thing has always worked. Keeping promises has always worked. Being transparent has always worked. Creating something of value has always worked. Starting small has always worked. Communicating in more than 140 characters has always worked. Picking up the phone or meeting in person, instead of only texting or emailing has always worked.

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The Road Not Taken

By Callie Oettinger | 21 Comments

I can see Robert Frost’s yellow wood. In my mind, it’s always Fall and always the golden hour before sunset. A thick layer of leaves blankets the ground and yet every tree is full, as if not a leaf has fallen. This image has been bubbling up uninvited these past few months. One minute I’m working and the next I’m leaning back in my chair as my mind wanders through a mashup of Van Gogh yellow and Klimt gold and a wee bit of Hudson River Valley, all bathed in amber.

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Do You Believe?

By Callie Oettinger | 15 Comments

For the 14th year in a row, my kids and I drove to Pentagon City Mall for a picture with Santa. Now 15 and 11, they know the fat guy in the red suit is an echo of their childhood. Still there, and still nice, and still happiness-and-laughter inducing, but not the same as before the veil was lifted. How could it be the same? Once you know, there’s no going back.

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First Things First

By Callie Oettinger | 4 Comments

A jab is a quick, sharp punch. It’s the setup for other punches—that seemingly small thing that serves you well in the ring. “It is their most important weapon. Fighters throughout time have spilled blood and sweat attempting to perfect it—to make it fast, to make it sharp, Every punch, heavier than the last.

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