This morning, whilst excitedly talking to my wife about how it may be possible that I’ll be able to finish editing The Long Chron today even, and also going then into a long list of all of the things I’ll be able to start doing once that’s finished, she looked at me with a rather quizzical eye and said, quite simply, “You’re talking like someone’s holding a gun to your head.”
I responded quite quickly with something about how I’m the one holding a gun to my head and blah blah blah, more random notes of excitement that I’m sure she just sluffed off to my typical over-excitement when I’m nearing the end of one project and about to begin the next (which is quite different than when I actually finish a project and can’t get up any sort of energy at all to start the next because of the post-project depression that takes over me).
I’ve talked about this all at length here in the past (probably when nearing the end of a project every time) and I’m sure I won’t tread any real new ground, but since this is what’s on my mind this morning, you’re getting some possible re-hashing. You can thank my wife…which, seeing as she’s one of my few regular readers, go ahead, thank yourself 😉
I’ve long been a dreamer, having such lofty goals of amazing success that could never actually be achieved by any one person, unless they are somehow one of those celebrity types that I’m sure aren’t actual people, but robots crafted by some high-up CEO to ensure that the rest of us peasants have something to look up to. I’ve kept my goals high, holding the reason that I should be happy, then, if I were achieve anything that is along the way to that unreachable dream.
The real problem with doing such a thing, is that since those goals are impossibly high, you kind of get to a point where you just believe that you’re as well off just hoping that some act of God, or random coincidence, or whatever, will cause you to move forward on that path you have haphazardly left out for yourself, you know, like those stories you hear about artists who were found by randomly passing agents of riches and wealth.
My dreams were so impossibly huge that I found myself completely incapacitated, unable to do anything that might cause me to completely fail, and every time I would do something, and fall short of my own expectations, well, the crippling defeat would overwhelm me.
This happened for years, decades even, where I would just absolutely stop the presses, keep anything from happening, stop attempting to pursue my creative outlets for years at a time, just because I simply was too afraid of failing once again.
Even after completing my first novel, the first time, I found myself stopping doing anything because I found out that it wasn’t quite what I had hoped it could be…partially due to the fact that everyone who shy away from talking to me about it, agents, friends, family, whomever, partially because I found out myself just how terribly written it was.
I stopped. Time and again, I stopped pursuing my dreams simply because they seemed too damned hard, too completely impossible.
In fact, I still stop…I’ve just found ways to manage my expectations slightly better, as well as pushing myself forward…the gun to my head, so to speak.
You see, for so long I was looking at this big picture idea, this vague concept that I hadn’t actually defined, but meant that I would be able to live my life as a professional creative, however that might play itself off. I might even do interviews on talk shows, or have great gobs of money, or whatever. The idea was never formed, just that I would be paid to be creative. It’s what I wanted, it’s what I dreamed of. But I never nailed down that goal.
Of course, it’s difficult to nail down a goal as big as that when you really do have such a crazily open field for yourself on what you’d be willing to do. I mean, I love acting, I love writing, I love singing, I love playing musical instruments (rather poorly of course), I love directing, I love drawing (terribly), I love crafting costumes (also, pretty meh)…I love being creative. It’s part of the reason I love my kids so much…they give me my creative outlets.
But I never defined what my own goals were, even once I started calling myself an author. I still continued to have this incredibly open view of what my dream future could hold…
And I couldn’t manage it. Not a bit. Every time I saw myself complete a project that didn’t immediately garner gobs of accolades for every corner of the globe, I saw myself falling further from my goal of professional creative.
I had to rearrange my perspective, develop actual visible goals that I might possibly be able to attain, look at the smaller pictures and see where I’m doing better than I was doing yesterday, see how, even if it is by inches, I was moving forward toward something.
And when I started doing that, I found my dedication to the tasks increased. When I started looking at things like how many books I’ve written over the course of a year (last year I released two books, both of which had been written in years previous, this year I’ve got 2 already released and at least two more that will be completed by the end of the year which were written over the course of a single year), or actual book sales (you know, like how August 2014 came within a few dollars of making more money than all of 2013), or just plain readers in general (you know, like how there’s not a week that goes by anymore where I don’t become aware of new readers of my works), I found that I’m actually making great strides. Sure, there are other authors who made their debuts around the same time as myself who may be doing considerably better than I am, but here’s the thing…I’m doing better than I was.
My final goal might still be ages away, but I now can see that I’m actually making forward momentum toward it…and it’s damned exciting.
This isn’t a gun to my head. This is a fire under my ass. The more work I put into my craft, the more I see myself propelled toward that final destination. And the more excited I get.
Sure, it may be somewhat disappointing to release a book as a self-published author. You don’t get any form of ticker tape parades thrown in your honor, and you may just have a drink by yourself after the rest of the house has gone to sleep…but when looking at the overall picture, at the numbers, at the fact that people actually read and enjoy my books, at the fact that I’ve got a whole host of projects in the fire (including some collaborations that I’m still in the midst of defining)…well, it becomes quickly clear that my life is being more defined by my creative outlets than by my day job…and that’s really all I ever wanted to begin with.
Anyways, today’s looking like a solid day to get toward the end of the editing process on The Long Chron. And I’m hella excited about that as well.
Have fun out there!