I’ve been struggling these past few days with writing, both in the story I am working on now and in editing old work (badly needed edits, I am realizing). These are times with the isolation of a writing life begins to close in, when the darkness seems near at hand. So you have choices: give up, give in, or get back to work. I try and get back to work. In such times I often turn to the writers who mean the most to me, the ones who make me push myself to be better. I re-read their texts, study them, allow myself to feel inspired by them anew. For me, one mainstay is always Andre Dubus (right). Not only did the tough old bastard write like an angel, he wrote even when the world often ignored him. And he wrote what he wanted to write, stories that moved him, characters who wouldn’t let him go. He concentrated on getting people right, even if it meant facing hard truths about himself and about humanity. One would be hard pressed to find stories more powerful than “A Father’s Story” or novellas that said more than most writers’ novels. Reading him can be like reading a voice that has existed inside my head for years. Dubus suffered hardship—physically (after an accident suffered while coming to another's aid), personally, financially—yet he never backed away from writing fiction that matters. His work sets a kind of standard for me. Some days I think if I could just write one story or one chapter that could come close to measuring up to the quality and precision of his work, it would be a successful writing life. So I read him and I learn. Again. And then I set back to work.