A while back, I was chatting with an agent and he said, "You have no idea how lucky you are to have published so many books."
"Oh?" I said.
"Most writers get three novels, tops. If they haven't hit the best-seller lists by then, they become unpublishable." And he proceeded to give me some very depressing examples.
So today, I thought I would offer the best piece of advice I have for new writers. This advice doesn't apply to gonnabe writers, mind you. Only to those who have already proved that they can get published in Asimov's or F&SF or another of the major science fiction and fantasy markets. If you're not published yet, continue doing what you're doing. It feels like you're thrashing about in random desperation but what you're actually doing is learning and it's important.
If you're already published and you're pretty confident that you can go on selling your stories, then it's time for you to get more serious. You've only got so much time in your life and the realities of publishing are such that you might be frozen out of the market before then. So you need to be ambitious.
Here's my advice: Write the most difficult story you can imagine. Not difficult to the reader, mind you -- to you. Write the story that you were hoping you'd be a better writer before tackling. Because you might not get that chance.
Start it today.
Above: The azalea is in bloom! Can the roses be far behind?