I have spent what seems to be the majority of the last week in the bathroom.
If you’ve somehow decided to continue reading past that sentence, thanks for giving me the credit that I wouldn’t be deciding to sit here and talk about my bowel movements for the next 1000 words. No, I’ve been finishing up renovations, meaning I’ve spent much more time under the toilet than on it.
You see, our house is old. Built in 1901, old. And as such, it’s gone through many owners. All of whom, apparently, considered themselves home improvement experts…or at least didn’t quite have the funds to hire someone who actually was an expert. From time to time I come across things that weren’t exactly done in manners that I, the non-home improvement expert who spends way too much time attempting to improve his home, can easily see is not an effective way to deal with home repair or improvement.
One such issue has to do with a pantry that was converted into a bathroom sometime during the last century. I’d long been aware of issues involving the bathroom. The toilet was not seated right. It was obvious. It was obvious because the thing shifted in its place whenever you sat down on the thing. Or, you know, walked next to it too heavily.
I ignored it. Mostly because I hate home improvement tasks..partially because I already have enough tasks in my queue and didn’t want to find another one to work on.
Well, I didn’t completely ignore it. I did look at it once, early on, when I assumed that it just needed to be tightened so it would be attached to the floor more directly. That was a mistake…that was when I found that it wasn’t attached at all because they had made their hole too big…but I ignored it.
So, I’ll admit that I can take a fair portion of the blame when, a few months ago, I realized that the floor was beginning to sag.
Deciding I couldn’t ignore the issue any longer, I went to work and pulled the toilet from it’s resting place and ripped up the floor to find that a giant section of the plywood and underlayment and whatever else is down there was completely rotten due to the fact that water was able to just seep inbetween the linoleum and the stuff holding up the toilet and whatever else. It was so rotten that I was actually able to rip a giant hole in the floor with my bare hands, using almost no effort.
I already had my phone out of my pocket to call our handyman when my wife reminded me that we, too, aren’t exactly rich and should probably take on the task ourselves, seeing as I’ve proven somewhat effective with plumbing and floors in the past. I reluctantly agreed, after she allowed that we might want to get a pro in to actually rip out the rotten wood and assess any actual structural damage.
The pro finished their work over the course of a couple hours within a couple days of the original finding. Months later, I’m only a couple of items away from considering myself complete.
In fact, I would be done, if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve had to replace almost every single piece of hardware on everything within the damned bathroom in the past few days. I’ve been to the hardware store more than I’ve showered in the past week…
This bathroom was put together terribly…and I’ve been working my butt off to make it less terrible. And I’m pretty sure I’m doing a darned good job at it. I mean, at least the toilet stays in one place…
But here’s the thing about do-it-yourself (oh, yeah, by the way, I have a way of connecting this all to something actually relevant) work. You have to be willing to do it right and spend the time and money to ensure its done right. Sure, you’re saving money by doing it yourself, but you can’t cheap out on the actual end product, or it will cost you much more in the long run.
When reading on the internet about all of the things you need to do in order to be successful at self-publishing, you’ll find that there’s a wide difference in ideas about the necessities for success. Some people claim there’s absolutely no way you will ever succeed without an editor. Others swear by social media. Yet even more claim that finding a cheap publicist is the key to success. In fact, you’ll see so many of these claims across the internet that you’ll probably begin to overlook the one key factor in finding success as an author.
Writing a great book.
This note will pop up. Just look, you’ll see it in almost every top ten list of things you absolutely must be doing in order to be a successful author. But it’s almost like a toss away idea. It’s secondary, at least from the amount of attention that’s paid to it.
I’m not going to even attempt to promise you that if you write a great book you’ll find success. But I will use my bathroom as a metaphor for how that success might look.
You see, there are plenty of authors out there who have found success with completely terribly written books. I haven’t read Twilight or 50 Shades, but have been assured many times over that they are horribly written, outside of the actual subject matter. They’re books that were written, just like my bathroom was one with a toilet that sent waste matter out of sight. But they weren’t written with the strongest of support structure. Just like my bathroom, the floor was set to crumble beneath them.
Just taking a quick look (for the purposes of this blog post) at what Stephanie Meyer’s been up to since she finished the Twilight series, I see she began writing a companion book to the Twilight series, but gave up after 12 chapters of the rough draft were leaked online…That’s not the sound of someone who is confident with their work. In fact, she has received so much flak over her writing since the books became popular, that I have to imagine she has quite the complex regarding her abilities as an author. Again, I’ve never read the books, so I can’t speak for or against them. All I can say is that I’ve been told they aren’t built on the most solid of foundations (what I saw of the first movie definitely supports that theory). As such, whether or not she is successful, she’ll always be dogged by critics…one of which is apparently Stephen King, who had this to say about Meyer (from Wikipedia): “The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer, and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”
There are many things you need to do to be an author who makes money. There’s only one thing you need to do in order to be truly successful as an author, and that’s to write a great book. Focus on that first, then hopefully the other pieces will fall into place. It’s hard enough to put your work out there and get a bad review. It’s even worse if you know you could’ve done better.
Alright, I’m out of here. I haven’t written a word in my works in progress for over two weeks, today is the day to correct that.
Have a good one!