Four Lessons from Toni Morrison’s Illustrious Career

Toni Morrison turned 84 today, and she's publishing her eleventh novel, "God Help the Child," in April. In 1988, she won the Pulitzer for her influential book, "Beloved." Then in 1993, she became the first black woman and second American woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. She also spent a large part of her early career as an editor and professor. Amidst the life lessons in her literature, we can learn a lot from her career. Four of our favorite takeaways:

1. Your first job won’t be your only job. Toni Morrison taught college English before she even started writing. “I didn’t come to life as a writer until I was in my 30s,” she said in 1998

2. Take a risk. When her novel “Paradise” was published in 1998, Morrison told the L.A. Times, “I am always trying to say what it is, what the truth really is. I never avoid the risk.”

3. What helps you feel like you belong in the world? Find out, and do it. Morrison told the Paris Review in 1993, "[W]hat makes me feel as though I belong here out in this world is not [being] the teacher, not the mother, not the lover, but what goes on in my mind when I am writing. Then I belong here and then all of the things that are disparate and irreconcilable can be useful. I can do the traditional things that writers always say they do, which is to make order out of chaos." 

4. Produce something you would want to read, or see, or share. Morrison said of “The Bluest Eye,” “I only wrote the first book because I thought it wasn’t there, and I wanted to read it when I got through.”