‘Good writers offer advice. Great writers offer condolences’ If you want to be a writer, then you’d better be ready to hurl yourself at the door. That’s the message from Stephen Marche in this irresistibly droll broadside. Perseverance, in the teeth of rejection, forms the essence of a writer’s life. It’s what it takes, so no whining. Even the greatest of writers grapple with failure. Marche’s provocative, often very funny vignettes range through literary history from Samuel Johnson (‘broke as f*ck’) to Jane Austen’s lacklustre publishing deals, to Dostoevsky facing mock-execution. The trick is to endure. As James Baldwin famously exhorts us: ‘Write. Find a way to keep alive and write.’For new and seasoned writers, Marche’s words are salutary and, in a paradoxical way, consoling.All writers are up against it. Success is just an attire.