If you care about what you do and work hard at it, there isn’t anything you can’t do if you want to. Jim Henson
There are many versions of this phrase, and it’s almost accepted as an axiom. I constantly meet people that tell me I can get a job, and not just any job, but the job I really want, if I really want it. I can just quit my old job and get the right one if I choose. You know, sky is the limit and all that crap. This fascinates and irritates me at the same time.
It irritates me because it isn’t true. I’m a 50 year old man with NLD, which has given me many opportunities to test that assumption. It was true to a certain extent in school. Working hard on your studies is always a sound investment, but I found that no matter how hard I worked, I fell behind. Working hard just reduced the gap. I have always been a hardworking employee, but your status appears to be determined more by human interaction, or workplace politics, than the actual job you do. So knowing your worth is a very complicated issue.
Reading blogs and books leaves me a little puzzled, and with a huge question. How do I create a winner? When I look at some of the products that have become successful I wonder why. You can’t look at previous successes and follow the same recipe. Christina Baker Kline had published four novels that received good reviews without becoming bestsellers, so many didn’t expect Orphan Train to do much better. They were wrong because it sold 3,5 million printed copies, was translated to 40 languages, and spent more than 2 years on New York Times and USA Today bestseller list. The Norwegian author Lars Mytting may have published the ultimate unlikely success, Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way. Are you fascinated? The non-fiction book became a bestseller in Norway and Sweden, and was actually translated into English.
When you look at successes there is often a history of failure in their past. J.K. Rowling viewed herself as a failure before she published Harry Potter, which is understandable. She was divorced, out of a job, penniless, and had a child that needed her. Success couldn’t have come at a better time. Stephen King’s Carrie was supposedly rejected loads of times before it finally was published.
I haven’t read many blogs lately. I haven’t read much at all. The idea was to challenge myself to read 50 books this year, but after almost two months of the year I have only read two books. I prefer listening at the moment, so I have been listening to podcasts. It’s not that easy finding them because there is a lot of crap available on iTunes and Spotify, but I have found some good ones.
I am surprised at some of the quite successful ones. I ask myself what it was about them that made people want to listen, and just like with books there doesn’t seem to be a recipe for how to do it. I don’t buy the assumption that hard work and talent will get you anywhere, and if you don’t get to where to want to go, it’s not necessarily because you were not willing to do the work. The truth is that you can’t do it on your own.
I have a passion for writing. I am compelled to write, which makes it very personal. There are stories I want to write, but for different reasons I can’t release them at the moment. There are things I need to unravel first, to get out of the way before I can proceed. I have heard about writers that find it hard to call themselves writers. That’s a sentiment I can relate to because being a writer is very personal. I guess it’s a dilemma. I feel the need to write, and I can only write truth, but that leaves me exposed, like an easy target. I suspect that I am not the only one with fear, uncertainty and self-doubt, and I am not even published yet.
I hope to be, though. I am working on that, and like with myself that is a work in progress. I have several projects I really believe in, but that may not be enough. It may not be enough to meet people either; I have to meet the right people. Timing has to be right, and it may not the right time in my life now. Maybe something needs to happen in reality before I can write the stories that will intrigue readers. It may be too hard for me to focus now because there are a number of uncertainties.
I am a hard worker and I certainly care about what I do. I hope Jim Henson was correct, but I have a feeling that Neil deGrasse Tyson was closer to the truth: “Curious that we spend more time congratulating people who have succeeded than encouraging people who have not.” That’s the way I feel about neurodiversity. No one is going to leave the ladder down for me, but with the help from the people in my life I hope to grow into a novel.
This blog hasn’t grown into something people want to read yet, but it is my goal that it will. The same goes for my book projects. Failure or rejection is a part of the process, and when something doesn’t work, the author needs to find a cleverer way to solve it. That’s just a part of the work and hopefully it’ll lead somewhere. I don’t know where in my case. The main point is that I love what I do, and at the moment I’m not upset about being where I am. I’d like to think I could follow the same path the science fiction writer Ren Warom did. Many of us were glad that she shared her thoughts as they were helpful to others, but I am also glad that she is able to focus on creative writing now. Visit her blog.
Incidentally, making money would of course be nice, but being published is success.