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Norman Mailer

Two Pulitzer Prizes

When I say my only reading was romantic, it was before I went to Harvard. One of the great changes was that now my reading turned completely. I discovered that people could speak of poetry without an apologetic grin. They could be dead serious about listening to classical music. You know, I came from Brooklyn and you were lower than a sissy if you took music seriously, if you took poetry and so forth. That wasn't there. The game was on the streets. I don't mean by that that I was a tough kid out on the streets and such, but we all were slightly tough. You know, we learned to play touch football jeering at cars when they occasionally went by because they interrupted our game. That was as tough as we got, but nonetheless there was an attitude of machismo even though we didn't fulfill it. And so, going to Harvard where culture was important was the key shock. It was four or five steps at that point. So, then I began to read seriously of necessity. Everybody else was reading seriously, so I did, too.
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Norman Mailer

Two Pulitzer Prizes

Norman Mailer: I learned a great deal from writing classes. I don't sneer at them. In fact, I often give people -- when I get a letter from someone and perhaps they have enclosed a few pages of a story, and they obviously have a raw talent but they're completely untutored -- I often tell them to go to the nearest writing class they can find. And what I tell them in the letter -- and later I put that, I think, into The Spooky Art -- was that it doesn't matter if the teacher is not extraordinary. After all, if you're going to take a writing class in some community college, the odds are that the person who is teaching the course may be dedicated, but they are not necessarily the best writing teacher in the state, but nonetheless what is good is you get a wonderful sense of audience. You come to learn that your story is not what you thought it was, that if ten people are reading it you're likely to find that there will be two or three at each end - you really have a bell-shaped curve. There will be one, two or three people at either end who love it or hate it much more than you thought they would. And it also chops down that terribly unstable vanity that young writers have, you know, where they think, "I'm a great writer," and at the same time they can't take a single criticism, and writing courses are good for that; they weather you. It's a little bit like a kid who wants to play varsity football but never tries out for the team. So you go to that writing class and you get toughened up a little.
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Norman Mailer

Two Pulitzer Prizes

Nelson Algren once said something very interesting. I attended a writing class he was giving; he asked me to sit in with him. He was very kind to a rather mediocre writer, who imitated Hemingway so badly but so completely that after the class I said, "Why did you give all that time to that fellow? He really is no good." And he said, "Yeah, I know he's no good but, you know, sometimes these guys who are mediocre get better." He said, "The thing is, I like it if they have an influence when they're young and they write in the style of somebody else, because that speeds them up for learning how to write by themselves. Once they learn how, if they're any good at all they step away from the person they're imitating and begin to find their own style, but first they've got to be able to imitate somebody." And, I've never forgotten that. It was an interesting comment about writing.
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Peyton Manning

Super Bowl Champion Quarterback

Peyton Manning: The cerebral part of the game is the most challenging part of the game. You wouldn't be in the NFL if you didn't have the physical skills. I've spent tons of time, like I said, the workouts as a high school kid, lifting weights, running by yourself. You do that, but you have to do that. The cerebral part is where you can advance yourself and (what you) have to constantly stay on top of. Both of them, really. If you ever stop working out, that is when you get injured, you get behind. But you have to stay so sharp mentally. I think sometimes you can get away with the physical part with being a great athlete. I can overcome that, but the cerebral part, you can't get behind in the mental aspect of the game. Everything happens so fast.
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Peyton Manning

Super Bowl Champion Quarterback

My dad used to give me a lot of quotes, just cut out of a newspaper article, or out of a quote book, and put them on a bulletin board. One that just kind of hit me at an early age, probably ten years old, it said -- it was by Chuck Noll, a great coach for the Steelers. He said, "Pressure is something that you feel only when you don't know what you're doing," and that just kind of hit me right away. I was playing baseball and basketball at that age. It certainly applies to football today. You don't feel pressure if you study the game plan and know what to do. School work? The same way. If you know what to do, if you put the time in and study, you really shouldn't feel pressure. Now, you might not ace every test or complete every pass, but you don't feel pressure. Pressure is no fun to perform or to execute that way. So that was kind of my theme as a young kid, and I worked hard in school.
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Peyton Manning

Super Bowl Champion Quarterback

Peyton Manning: Probably the toughest decision I had to make at that time. That was the thing, because I had my degree. That was the tough thing. "Well, I'm not going to graduate," I'd say. "I'm going back to school." I just thought a lot about it. I prayed a lot about it. I sought a lot of advice from my dad. My dad got me some phone numbers of some guys that I wanted to call, some other athletes that had been in that situation, some that stayed, some that went, and talked about, "Hey, I regretted it," or "No, I did the right thing, I left early." So I formed kind of a pros and cons list. I like to write things down. I'm kind of a note-taker. I think writing things down creates that blueprint that guides you through the ups and downs of life, and I just made my decision. As soon as I make it, the one thing I do believe, I think it's up to you to make it the right decision after you make it. To say, "I made the right decision," right when you make it, how do you really know? You don't even ask that question. You say, "I'm going to make it the right decision," by going out and doing it and working hard and not looking back and not second-guessing yourself.
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Wynton Marsalis

Pulitzer Prize for Music

Wynton Marsalis: I was good, man. I made A's because I was studying because I always read all these books about the slaves, and people didn't want the slaves to get education. Also, my mother is very educated, she's smart. And my father, he would always talk to us like we were grown men, just in the content of his conversations. We never knew what he was talking about half the time. We'd just go, "Yeah, yeah, okay." Like you could ask daddy just something basic, "Daddy can I have a dollar?" And he would go into like a discussion! I believed in studying just because I knew that education was a privilege. And, it wasn't so much necessarily the information that you were studying, but just the discipline of study, to get into the habit of doing something that you don't want to do, to receive the information, and then eventually you start to like it. I always liked to read. My mother would make sure that we read. So, I would read a lot of books, and I would do good in school mainly because I hated to do bad.
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