Some delicious things to begin your week:
First, a wonderful story by Rachel Swirsky, to read free online. If you don't know her work, this is a great introduction. Portrait of Lisane da Patagnia on Tor.com. The line between art and magic is a treacherous thing.
Next, another question and answer session on writing with Ursula K. LeGuin at Book View Cafe's blog. To a young writer asking about success, she responds:
I think the word success confuses people. They get recognition mixed up with achievement, and celebrity mixed up with excellence. I rarely use the word – it confuses me. I didn’t want to be a success, I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t set out to write successful books. I tried to write good ones.
Receiving recognition is very important to a young artist, but you may have to settle for achievement with very little recognition for a long time. You ask about me. I wrote and submitted my work to editors for six or seven years without getting anything published except a few poems in poetry magazines – as near invisibility as you can get in print. It kept me going, though. Then I got two short stories accepted within a week, one by a literary quarterly, the other by a commercial genre magazine. From then on I had some sense of where to send the next story, and began to publish more regularly, and finally placed a novel. Each publication added to my self-confidence. Growing recognition added more. But the truth is, I always had confidence in myself as a writer – I had arrogance, even. Yet I had endless times of self-doubt. I think what carried me through was simply commitment to the job. I wanted to do it.
Talent is no good without commitment. I’ve had students who wrote very well, but weren’t willing to commit to write, to go on writing, and to go on writing better. But that’s what it takes.
“Feeling successful” – well, that’s something you have to work out for yourself, what it means to you, how important it is. You’re quite right that very good and highly celebrated writers may not feel “successful.” Maybe they have unhappy natures, and the Nobel Prize would just depress them. Or maybe they aren’t fully satisfied with what they’ve done so far, don’t feel they’ve yet written the best book they could write. But they have the commitment that keeps them trying to do it.
Hang in there. And don’t push it. No hurry! Writing is a lifetime job.
What is a day without a beautiful galaxy to admire?
Like other flocculent galaxies, this spectacular galaxy lacks the clearly defined, arcing structure to its spiral arms that shows up in galaxies such as Messier 101, which are called grand design spirals. ... In flocculent spirals, fluffy patches of stars and dust show up here and there throughout their discs. ... Sometimes the tufts of stars are arranged in a generally spiraling form, as with this galaxy, but illuminated star-filled regions can also appear as short or discontinuous spiral arms.