Dr. Isaac Asimov, the Russian-born master of science fiction, has never taken a vacation. Call him a workaholic and he winces....
"Unless you are some sort of saint, it helps a lot not to worry about economic consequences. I write for the same reason some people play golf. It gives me pleasure. And I sell what I write so people can't say: 'Stop writing, you lazy bum.' This frees me to concentrate on writing. A workaholic is compelled to work by a neurotic need. I'm a playaholic. Writing is play that I get paid for.
"In 1959, when I was teaching at Boston University Medical School, the dean […] and I had a disagreement. I gave up research to write. I stuck to my guns strongly, even ferociously. Later, someone told me the dean admired my courage, that I had stuck up for my rights. I told that person there was no courage involved. Academic freedom can best be supported when you have an independent income. I did not have to be deflected from my principles by the thought that I'd better look for another job.
"The dean wasn't malicious. He just said: On June 10, 1958, your salary will stop.' I said I didn't care. He said: You'll be ending your appointment.' I told him he could keep the salary, and I would keep the title. We fought over that, too. I kept the title, associate professor. In 1979, I became a full professor. I asked for that title and, this time, no one said No.' My writing is, after all, a form of teaching.
"Success is doing what you enjoy. There was a time when I wasn't as famous as I am now, but I was just as happy. It never occurred to me that people would read my science fiction. I never thought I'd ever make more than $1000 a year from my writing. The first seven years as a successful author, I made $7700. I considered myself a success because I thought I was one of the best writers of science fiction.
"You can be successful doing something you don't enjoy. Suppose you have to take over the family business. You hate it. But you do it. Maybe what you'd really like to do is paint watercolors. Inside you feel miserable. But in the eyes of the world, you're a success. I'm successful in my own eyes.
"I keep busy when I'm tense. What makes tension bad is that you worsen it by brooding. You convince yourself that what's wrong is going to turn out more wrong. You build it up into a mountain you can't cross. The only thing to do is not think about it. If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster."Boston Globe, October 16, 1983