I don’t get all hot and bothered about things like New Year’s day (or eve, for that matter). And birthdays certainly don’t hold any appeal for me any more. But that’s just me. My ex-wife (and there are Very Good Reasons for that) would tell you that my lack of excitement about such things is that I was born old. Maybe so, or maybe I’m just now getting into my growth. Frankly, I’ve been through a lot in my life and there just is not all that much to be excited about any more.
What does interest me nowadays is ensuring that I have a decent income from my writing, since I am now well past that time of my life where I could put in a full day tossing bales of hay up into the loft, digging post holes and stringing wire fencing or building cattle pens (and I’ve actually done that stuff). So now, instead of building furniture or turning work on one of my lathes, or French Polishing an older piece or doing anything that smacks of real labor, I write. Sometimes (now is a good example), to avoid actually writing, I write about writing.
2012 saw me avoiding writing like the plague. Since October of 2008 I have been hard at work producing four Terry Rankin novels (that includes finishing the first draught, rewriting, editing and publishing and then marketing and promotion. I get tired just thinking about it). So I gave myself the year off, and I have no regrets on that score, at all at all.
Okay, so I cheated just a bit. I was supposed to spend the first part of the year on a co-authored project that I would up backing out of after six months, and I did actually produce a short volume on rose care (A Primer on Roses) that I have yet to do any marketing for at all. But I did nothing about a fifth novel on Terry Rankin and his motley crew.
That starts next month, and I have little or no idea about how it’s going to go. But that’s okay with me, because I still have the rest of today off. ‘Next year’ starts tomorrow, remember.
In the meantime, let’s talk about writers, and writing. I’ve had a few blogs cross my screen so far today, from writer’s I’ve come to know over the last few years. Some are new to the business, and some have been published for awhile. But they all seem to have one thing in common in their posts today; they are incorrigible optimists.
Good for them. Incorrigible pessimists wouldn’t ever bother to write a damn thing, so certain are they that nobody would ever bother to read what they wrote anyway.
In many ways, you have to be an optimist to write novels. No matter your characters might be pessimists in their approach to life, you, as the author, have to have some hope to see such a project through to the bitter end.
You have to hope that your audience will enjoy what you write, you have to hope your manuscript will see the light of day and you have to hope it will soon become a best seller. You have to hope that some day in the not-too-distant future you will see more than a few hundred dollars a year from your royalties. In order to write, and to edit and to rewrite and to publish, you have to hope.
But do keep in mind that there are literally millions of people writing today, and hoping, and publishing. Hope is a great motivator, and will keep you going when no other thing will. But in and of itself it simply is not enough to separate you from all those other authors and wannabee authors.
You need ‘Grit’ (or intestinal fortitude, or guts, or determination, or persistence). Writing, editing and publishing one novel is not going to see you awash in cash and overwhelmed by success (JK Rowling notwithstanding). You need to learn something, every day. Something that will improve your writing skills, your marketing skills, your ability to promote yourself as a writer, your ability to speak well and clearly to an audience. You need to learn, because there is no one to teach you.
You need to understand that you and you alone are responsible for your success or your failure as an author. You need to understand that one book or two or three will not ensure your success. Establishing yourself as a well-known author with readers anticipating your next release will take years of steady effort on your part. And those years will be filled with writing, and editing and rewriting, and marketing and promotion of yourself as an author and your novels as the fruit of your labor.
You need to hope for success, and you need to plot and plan to achieve that success. Only by doing will you be able to keep that hope alive.
When you give up on yourself and your dreams, your dreams die first.
Don’t ever give up; not on yourself, and not on your dreams.
Lots of people will wish you a Happy New Year. I do. But it is up to you to make yourself a Happy New Year.
Go for it.