IT IS worth while sometimes spending half an hour in the reading room of a public library in the study of those who frequent it, noticing the kind of people they are and upon what periodicals they concentrate. You will in that way learn something about human nature. Most of them are reading for the sake of the matter in the columns, but amongst them are quite likely to be one or two who themselves contribute or have ambitions to do so, for the number of men and women who are victims of “the scribbling itch” is astonishing to anybody first becoming aware of it. A majority of them want to write because they are under the impression that it is an easy way of making money. Perhaps it is, for a very bright few, but a long experience urges me to say that it is one of the hardest for the scribbler of only average ability like most of us. To begin with, the competition is terrific and the space available limited; your “stuff”—don't flinch from the technical slang !—may be good, but somebody else's on the same subject may be better, or his article's length more suitable. Another topic which, in the editor's view, is more important, may crowd out your article or paragraph. If you mean to go in for the game at all, you must first of all be immune against disappointment, and you must also discipline yourself to take it for granted that it is the editor's judgment, not yours, that matters. Otherwise you will develop the habit of annoyance when your stuff isn't used. For your general outlook's sake, and your peace of mind, assume that the editor is always right, and criticise yourself rather than him.
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