Joan Didion is an iconic American writer who rose to prominence writing columns for Vogue in the sixties. She went on to publish a range of her own books and essays, and has been called Andy Warhol’s ‘spiritual twin’ (by Vanity Fair).
Her 1961 essay ‘Self-respect: Its Source, Its Power’ is a classic, challenging read about the day she, “lost the conviction that lights would always turn green for me”. Didion makes the point that you can only gain self-respect when you learn to face reality, and accept that not everything you touch will turn to gold.
This is the perfect read for anyone (especially creatives) who wants their self-respect to be pinned to slightly more than, “good manners, clean hair, and proven competence.” It also calls out those of us who avoid answering our phones (ahem, guilty) because it’s all tied up to being a bit of an anxious people pleaser.
Side note: Didion wrote this essay right as the magazine was going to press, filling the space another writer had been meant to fill. She wrote it not to a word count or a line count, but to an exact character count. What.
Read it over at Vanity Fair.