On burning bridges

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reading some version of this advice over and over: Don’t burn bridges. Be nice to everyone. You never know when someone will be able to help you down the road.

Which, oh please.

Sometimes the best thing you can do in life is burn bridges. Douse them in gasoline and set them aflame, then stand there cackling in the warmth of the bonfire.

Personally, I love burning bridges because then I can’t go back down them, no matter how tempted I may be. When you’re the kind of person for whom change is scary, sometimes the only way you can make yourself go forward is to get the flamethrower out.

And sometimes people or institutions or organizations need to understand that they are doing something wrong. That they have lost your faith or your trust or your business. There are a lot of jackasses in the world who would be less jackass-y if someone had once stood up to them and said, “You know, you’re a jackass.” Even if it isn’t nice. Even if it means you get fired.

Even if it means you burn a bridge.

This is especially important when you’re a writer with a point of view. If you stand for something, if you’re saying something worthwhile, then “nice” (as in agreeable and conciliatory and unwilling to piss people off) does not get the job done.

Have the courage of your convictions, you know?

If you believe something, believe it. Quit asking everyone for their permission, or qualifying yourself into a coma (“I believe in choice, except of course if it would bother you that I do, so maybe we could work out a deal where it happens on the third Tuesday of months beginning with Q”).

Burn that damned bridge down.

It may help to get to the other side, first.




  1. Damn. You're probably quite right, but I'd have to fight some of my instincts to get to that point. Something to chew over, that's for sure.
    Laughed out loud at the last line.

  2. Sometimes messages come right when you need them – and this is one of those times. Thank you so much!!

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