She gave up beauty in her tender youth, gave all her hope and joy and pleasant ways; she covered up her eyes lest they should gaze on vanity, and chose the bitter truth.
When it comes to locations, I'm one of those crazy authors who has to see it, touch it, taste it, before I trust myself to recreate it for my readers. Having said that, visiting a locked-down pediatric psych ward was the most intimidating research I've ever done - and I've visited maximum security prisons, shooting galleries, bone collections, etc.
Almost everyone can remember losing his or her virginity, and most writers can remember the first book he/she put down thinking: I can do better than this. Hell, I am doing better than this! What could be more encouraging to the struggling writer than to realize his/her work is unquestionably better than that of someone who actually got paid for his/her stuff?
In peace there's nothing so becomes a manAs modest stillness and humility;But when the blast of war blows in our ears,Then imitate the action of the tiger:Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;Now set the teeth, and stretch the nostril wide,Hold hard the breath, and bend up every spiritTo his full height!
Those that much covet are with gain so fond,For what they have not, that which they possessThey scatter and unloose it from their bond,And so, by hoping more, they have but less;Or, gaining more, the profit of excessIs but to surfeit, and such griefs sustain,That they prove bankrupt in this poor-rich gain.