“Believing in yourself is an endless destination. Believing you
have failed is the end of the journey.” –Author Unknown
It’s been a hard day today. We all have them. It isn’t that anything is wrong in my life; actually, I’m feeling very blessed. It is a time when many writers are unsettled, uneasy and questioning their path. And knowing it makes it a hard day for me.
There are many hard facts in this business. But there are even more uncertainties. You can depend on little except the unexpected. This makes it vitally important that you find your balance within.
I realize that sounds a bit too Zen for some, but it is a truth. There are certainties I can share, yes. Some are indisputable. Some are relevant only to those who encounter that circumstance. If you write very long, odds are you will encounter that circumstance, regardless of what it is.
Understand a few basics that really aren’t taught anywhere, but can help you if you know them going in:
1. Stuff happens. You can line up your ducks and have them all in a pretty row, but before you can dispatch them to work their magic, something will happen to screw up the formation. You can’t stop it, can’t even slow it down. What you can do is accept it, and press on.
2. Stuff changes. Often stuff totally out of your control. Stuff that you don’t want to happen because you’re comfortable with the status quo. Stuff you resent. Stuff you don’t grasp. Stuff you fear. You can’t change it. What you can do is accept it, and press on.
3. Stuff shifts. What worked well last time or last book, doesn’t work this time. Reader tastes have shifted. Line focus has shifted. Publisher’s reader base has changed. World events have shaped a new model, made what you’ve done out of fashion, repugnant, revolting. You can’t shove shifted stuff back into its old place. What you can do is accept it, and press on.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that everything changes and most of it is out of our control as writers. We can rail against it, but to what end? We get sore throats and little more. This is why I feel so strongly that we be open to change, open-minded and in our hearts. Change negates stagnation. That’s critical to growth and growth is vital to us.
As writers, we share with readers the human experience. If we stagnate, we have shared all we have. If we change, we gain more insights and understanding and experiences to share.
I’m not saying that change is easy. Often it’s more than difficult, requires more work, new learning curves–it can be a real pain in the ass. But it is healthy for us as writers and as human beings.
Too often outsiders fall prey to believing that writing is about the money. It’s not. If money were our goal, we’d be in other jobs. There are much, much easier ways to earn a living. Money isn’t enough to inspire the type of discipline that writing requires. It never has been, and it never will be.
It is purpose that drives the writer. Inspires her. Motivates her to make the sacrifices required, to tolerate the shifts and changes and stuff that happens. To stick with it, keep after it, chasing what even those closest to us call “the dream.”
If you’re writing, it’s a reality. The truth is just that simple, and that complex.
So how do you stay sane during all these applecart upsets? It’s easy. You must remember but this:
There is one and only one thing upon which you can depend: the work.
The passion you feel for it, the purpose you fulfill in investing in it–the sum of all your experiences you bring to it.
That you can control. That you can believe in and that believe in yourself, in the unique aspects of you that you bring to the work for your own unique reasons can make all the rest insignificant… if you will it.
You choose. And the choices you make define whether or not you and your writing are on the right path.