To Thine Own Self Be True…
…So says Polonius in Hamlet.
Recently I asked a question of my Facebook readers:
What is the most important life lesson you’ve learned so far?
One reader answered with the somewhat predictable:
“Always be true to yourself first!!”
Hold on…As blogger Nicholas Clairemont said at Big Think: “We are all victims, suffering in vain, alone in our wisdom, against an unfair society that condemns iconoclasts.”
And thus, another chimed in with a response that really struck home:
“Do not blindly follow your heart. While you must always follow your heart and the instinct which tells you what is best for you and yours, know and recognize the potential consequences of those choices. Each decision opens different doors and sometimes the hardest door to walk through may be the one you need.”
For the majority of my life I lived up to expectations. I did it well. A good daughter, student, a college graduate. A credentialed teacher. Home and family. I was the picture of standard success.
But what did I really want? What was the thing that would make my heart sing? What would drive me from bed in the morning with a spring in my step and keep me up late at night to pursue more and more? What was MY passion?
When I found fiction writing I thought this was IT. It consumed my every thought and minute. My normally well kept house went by the wayside. All resources went into the enormous learning curve involved in the publishing world. I poured heart, soul and time into ‘it’ for these last eight years.
I had found “it”.
…But at what cost?
The publishing world moves at a snail’s pace–yes. It can take years to learn craft and be contracted. Did it come too fast/ too easily for me? Was eighteen months from first keystroke to publishing contract too fast? It sure seemed like an eternity to me, but to others who have chased the publishing dream their entire lives, I was the anomaly.
To be published is NOT the key to publishing success. The vast majority of books remain in relative obscurity. There are simply too many–too much ‘noise’ to compete with, to be ‘discovered’. The chances of having a hit are one in a million.
Why do we authors continue? Maybe it is something akin to playing the lottery. You can’t win if you do not play. Some of us, no doubt, go in with rose coloured glasses thinking that this road has the pot of gold at the end. Most, however, this author included–write to be read. We write to move the reader. We write to give life to the ideas and characters in our heads. We write to convey the emotions of life. We write to make a difference in the life of the readers.
We do NOT write to get rich.
This writer has poured eight years of her life into her art–her craft. My family and friends have enjoyed watching my joy, no doubt. To observe the joy of someone on fire with passion, someone you care about is wonderful.
As I look back–did I have the right to use family resources to support my dream? Sure–I had spent all my life supporting others. But did I have the right to claim an unfair share of the family resources for this period of time to play the publishing lottery?
Should I have tempered my joy and passion with the realities of its repercussions?
Could I have foreseen the crippling effect of the recession or the devastating end of life expenses for my parents? No. Loss after loss has eroded my muse/ my joy.
Is it fate or bad luck that all efforts to stand out in the roaring crowd of authors and new books has met with minimal response? When is it time to throw in the sponge and ‘get real’.
Most authors have day jobs to pay the bills. Writing fiction is an artistic pursuit and as such, the majority of pursuers will be ‘starving artists’. What gave me the right to ever think differently?
Alas and however, as a wise man once said: “Writing is like a kiss. It takes two.”
Authors cannot kiss alone. And neither can I.
“Do not blindly follow your heart. …know and recognize the potential consequences of those choices. Each decision opens different doors and sometimes the hardest door to walk through may be the one you need.”
The hardest door for me to walk through is to ‘have to’ reenter the work a day work force to pay those pesky bills. Time and energy outside the publishing world. Reality sucks, but it may be the door through which I NEED to walk. It may be the one my anemic writer’s muse needs. Or it may be the door to something wonderful I cannot foresee.
The cost of some dreams is too high. The consequences too great.
Right now it feels like a whole lot of loss.
Really everything that needs to be said against this platitude was said by the great George Bernard Shaw, who remarked, “Life isn’t about finding yourself; Life is about creating yourself.”
The creation goes on…
What are your dreams? Have you/do you pursue them with abandon? At what cost?
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