'Tough' is one of the last adjectives I would use to describe myself.
The publishing industry, unsurprisingly, is full of different people who love different things and express that love in different languages. Find the people, the editors and agents, with whom you share some language, and some sense of what makes literature worth reading.
The 'here' of Watts is pastel houses with window gratings in curly patterns. 'Here' is yard sales with bins full of stuffed animals and used water guns. Here is Crips turf.
You pass the old L.A. County jail, which is surprisingly beautiful. It's got a handsome stone facade and stately columns. The new L.A. County jail - called The Twin Towers - isn't beautiful at all; it's a stucco panopticon the color of sick flesh.
Redeeming subjects from cliche is its own pleasure and privilege.
Whenever I've been stuck on a project, it's always brought me solace to the return to books that moved me in the past. It's a nice way to get outside my own head; and it brings me back to one of the most important reasons I write at all: to bring some pleasure to readers, to make them think or feel.