Thursday, December 12, 2013

Reason for Optimism

Preface: I wrote this post for a fellow author looking for a guest blog.  She was looking for something uplifting and it sounded like she was looking for some encouragement, so I took a few hours out of my day to pen this little post.  That was in October.  I figured I’d make some minor edits and post it as my own…since it is. J
“I’ve missed more than nine thousand shots in my career.  I’ve lost almost three hundred games.  Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.”
Most of you might recognize this Michael Jordan quote.  It’s come to be one of my favorites, not only because it’s about one of our most iconic athletes sharing his human fallibility, but also because of the simple truth in those words.  I’m new to the writing business and can see where people would get frustrated with the constant work that seems so slow to pay dividends, but I knew that writing was a career steeped in disappointment and aggravation when I set out on this path and tried to prepare myself for it.
I’ve always enjoyed the creative process.  I spent my childhood daydreaming.  I suppose I spend my adulthood daydreaming, too.  I just put it in writing and spend hours refining it into a finished product.  I could have written the full Proceena Trilogy, never published and enjoyed every moment.  But, I’d have missed out on the excitement of others reading Procythian Reign and sharing their enthusiasm for it.  It’s so rewarding to chat about their favorite character or how surprised they were by a plot twist.  It feels like Christmas and my kids are going to open a really cool gift I want them to enjoy!
But writing can be a fickle master.  There are all the long hours writing, rewriting and finishing just one work, something that will be repeated every time a new piece is written.  Then there are things like getting cover art, formatting your document for e-publishing and setting up your print book.  And this is the easy part.  The Twitter Machine consumes hours of my day.  There’s marketing research to do and business infrastructure to build.  I have become one with my phone and carry my computer everywhere I go, just in case I can sneak a few minutes to compose a review request or (Heaven forbid) write.  Then, there are the public appearances.  And, through it all, the wheels of progress seem to turn a little slowly.  Ok, sometimes it seems like they’re not turning at all.  But, that’s where Mr.  Jordan’s famous quote becomes so important. 
We are all human.  That means that we are all fallible.  Each and every one of us has failed at something, and, on some level, everything we’ve ever done.  George Washington’s first command was surrounded and captured and resulted in an international incident that sparked The Seven Years War.  Abraham Lincoln failed in business two separate times, lost eight elections and suffered a nervous breakdown before being placed at the helm of this nation in one of its most pivotal moments.  His future right hand man, Ulysses Grant, had resigned from the army to be with his family and failed at farming and real estate before going to work in his dad’s leather store to await destiny’s call. Winston Churchill was a failed First Lord of the Admiralty of World War I notoriety whose brain child was a campaign to open a new front in the Turkish Dardanelles.  The resulting battle, Galipoli, is still considered one of the great tragic wastes in a war full of great tragic wastes.
We all fail.  But, it is through failure that we grow and get better.  I have a new book, The Proceena Crusade, getting painfully close to a final rough draft.  That story has already undergone huge rewrites and cuts with more to come.  And, it’ll be a better, stronger book for the experience I have had with Procythian Reign.  When it’s time to publish, I’ll know ahead of time pitfalls and struggles I had the first time around, and will, hopefully, avoid most of them. 

The business of writing should be fun.  After all, isn’t that why we do it, to do something we love?  How many times have people of all walks of life said: “That’s the ticket, if only I could do that”?  Is it really any surprise that it’s so damned hard?  We just have to keep our butt in the chair and fingers on the keyboard.  We’ll stumble and bumble at times, but we’ll learn, and, with determination, we’ll persevere.  That’s the key to “success”. 

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