Feb 14, 2011

Caught Between the Scylla and New York City

How Arthur's Theme and The Police's "Wrapped Around Your Finger" got mashed up in my head I'm sure I couldn't tell you. But that's how these things go sometimes. The best that you can do... (the best that you can do...) oh wait. More lyrics. Ah well.

So, in the process of shaking off the monday morning lazies, and trying to remain under the radar at my day job is turning into a full time process of its own today. However, no one particular stream of coherence is ruling the roost thus far, so I suspect this blog is one part killing time and three parts conscious efforting towards a specific consciousness. I am uncertain as of yet precisely what this will bake up, but I'll be the first one to taste it, don't you worry.

Recent conversations have engaged upon me a particular awareness of attempting to balance two particular lives. In my case - lest ye fear for my eternal soul - it is the precarious juggling of a full time job, complete with marginal benefits, and the aspirations of being a full time author. The former is an occupation which I have spent the past 20 years cultivating. It bears fruit, it possesses some degree of shade, and though it is a frightfully horrific sight, it persists as a utilitarian success story. It provides for my family, offers me an ongoing sense of achievement, and bolsters my genetic needs for being a provider. Well, sort of. The economy being what it is, my wife and I both work; my job just happens to make a slight bit more (which I say as point of fact, and not out of an obligatory sense of competition).

The second of my two lives in in being an author. Self-published thus far, but with Flying Pen Press working on publishing my books later this year. I'm taking this a step further and moving on ebook publication, as well, working with my new friend Jen Ashton to learn the ins and outs of finding success through ebooks. As it turns out, it's nowhere nearly as complicated as I once thought; I've already converted the first 4 of my YA Steampunk books into e-form, and once I get the covers nailed down, I'll start releasing them.

But beyond the basics of ebook construction and marketing, one of the things Jen's helped me come to see is exactly how much of our success in life begins with decisive ambition and resolve. Logic laughs at me here - it realized this truth years ago, and I'm pretty late to the game, as it were. But the fact is, what we get from life is based almost entirely (either directly or otherwise) upon what we think, do and maintain.

It's like this:

Three years ago, I'd never finished a full book. Several aborted starts, but never anything that flowed all the way from cover to cover. And now I have five novels, several short stories, and even more "next ideas" than ever before. And did this happen all at once? Of course not.

Ask any author how they write a book, and eventually it's going to boil down to this: One Page at a Time.

And that's the key to doing anything. The danger comes from looking at JK Rowling or Stephenie Mayer and thinking "yeah, that's how you get successful!" But the fact is, JK and Stephenie are like Lady Gaga or Justin Beiber - they're quite successful, but they're also the exception. For every Gaga or Beiber, there are thousands of people out there, struggling through in various levels of success; some you might hear of, but most.... well, you won't.

Having sold a few hundred copies of my books with essentially no marketing strategy to speak of has already given me a greater degree of success than many writers out there - people with incredible talent and dedication to the craft, and yet whose work may never even see the light of day. Hell, I've written a lot of things that will never see print. It's just how these things go, I'm sure.

But that brings me back to the title of this blog.

One of the things Jen and I were talking about the other day was about the kind of faith it requires to just "take the leap from the lion's mouth" - (yes, an Indiana Jones reference. If you don't like it, learn to cope.) and how that sort of thing - Faith - has been a sticking point for me most of my life.

But something occurred to me today - - -

Faith in a supreme being - a concept I in many ways have simply come to the conclusion that I may never fully resolve - is something that people either have or they don't. They may even have faith that there is NOT a supreme being, but that's faith, too. But for me? It borders on the faintest edge of hope. And though this screams in the face of my youthful aspirations, I have also come to the realization that a lack of hope in a divine being does not mean I want to live my life as an experiment in anarchy and remorseless hedonism. Life may exist to be experienced, but I also want to have a purpose, principles, a guiding path that governs my decision-making processes. Even if only to me, I want my life to mean something. I want to live well.

Doing that doesn't require Faith, it just requires choice, with a smattering of foresight and resolve.

So, perhaps faith in oneself can work along the same basic principles? Mayhaps one doesn't need to well and truly believe that they're going to be successful like Stephen King or Neil Gaiman; maybe just being resolved to write and write well is enough to define one's sense of accomplishment, and let the universe do what it will.

I used to observe - with some degree of disillusionment - that one of the most disappointing side-effects of religion was the idea of being good so that your god will reward you (or at least not punish you). But I think that holds a secret truth to any sort of faithful pursuit. In the end, it's not about the rewards bestowed upon you that will give you the deepest satisfaction.

At the end of the day, will you look upon your works with satisfaction at a job well done, or will you with fear and derision avert your gaze?

Something to think about, today. As for me, I've got a couple of jobs to do. More later, peeps.

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