Said my neighbor, two weeks ago, as we took our bins out. “Should I be pruning mine too?” He asked with the willingness of an eager apprentice. He is a long-time home husband. However, he’s not quite so happy with his garden. Although respectable, he says it is lacking compared with other gardens he admires.
“No, don’t prune your roses,” I said. “It’s still summer. It is the wrong time of year but you know me; I garden by instinct.” I had been on a huge gardening clean-up that followed on from a big, post-Christmas, home clean-up. My present garden is small but for several years I had a large garden. As my children are spread out in age, I learned to garden quickly and efficiently due to the time constraints of having young children. The majority of the time, it worked. What also worked was to maintain planting things. Whatever grew; great. Whatever expired; take no notice. Keep moving forward. Remain true to what your tastes are in gardens but don’t be demanding and rigid about what the garden should look like. Go with the flow; not only of the seasons but also of the way a garden will take on a life force of its own.
As the neighbour and I parted company, I added by way of explanation about my untimely and severe mass pruning,”I need all the plants to get another life in Autumn.” He was going to re-ask if he should do the same thing but then realised we were on a circular path. He did remember with humour how one of our older Greek neighbours would get his chainsaw out to prune the roses and could spend five minutes wildly hacking off all the branches. Job done. I asked about his resulting roses.
“Beautiful,” said my neighbor. “He had bloody beautiful roses.” He frowned as if to complain that the gardening gods were neither logical nor consistent. Then he shrugged and decided to proceed with the conventional gardening scheduling instead of my irregular one. We both knew he would be watching my garden to decide upon the success or failure of the unconventional method.
To me, success in writing is similar to success in gardening.
Stay true to yourself and your loves. Say it bravely and with good intent.
Take only momentary notice of what expires. Use failures and flops as learning devices. Trust your own fate.
Write instinctively, disregarding what others think or do. Your instincts may be quite different to others.
Don’t be egotistical. Don’t look for fame. Share your work just because you want to share. Don’t say,”I’m not interested in fame. I share from the goodness of my heart!” Show by your consistent actions that you are considering sharing for the benefit of others’ well-being. Frankly, all egos are interested in fame so don’t be too hasty in declaring your innocence of it, unless you truly are. And as they say, Those who know, don’t say. People who don’t know, say.
Do your best. Sometimes your best will be better than other times. Do your best, one day at a time. That’s good enough.
Give something of value. The first person your writing ought to be valuable to is you. After taking a look at something you’ve created, ask yourself if you believe it’s good. If you do not think it’s great then make something else that corresponds to your highest sense of what you believe you’re capable of creating at this stage. Do not compare yourself to author, Paulo Coelho, with the maximum following of Facebook authors with a thirty-million-strong audience. Give what you are authentically capable of giving. Do not pester your friends on social media for support. They may support you, out of pity, but pity does not a writer make. If you are asking for support from your friends (regardless of how you phrase it) then you are not in a position to be giving them anything. Better to have two real followers of your work on any platform than five hundred friends who feel sorry for you. If all you honestly need to give, at this stage, is valued by only two followers then accept that, be grateful, and grow yourself at any and every way you can imagine, with humility.
Love your writing as you would your backyard. It’s never finished. So relax and revel in the beauty and life which is in it now, right where it’s at. You do not know who else can get value from something you’ve said or done. Frequently, many more people than you realise are blessed by something you do. We just get told a tiny fraction of this effect we have on other folks. As soon as we get the occasional compliment, we could take it as a reminder that there are people out there profiting from something we’ve invested ourselves in.
Be careful of your peers. No offence to writing groups but that is the last place I’d want to go for help with my writing achievement. Like most of peer groups, the bottom line is they are fine so long as you are no threat. If you are intending to do well in your chosen career, I would be very careful about spending too much time with peers that are struggling. Writers, like most groups of artistic people, place tremendous effort and great love into their work for, generally, very little in return. The ego, no matter how sweetly it dresses itself, can’t help but believe that one person’s success is another opportunity taken away from them in a seemingly intensely competitive market.
Likewise, against common opinion, I am a little sceptical about agents and publishers. They are surely doing a much better job than I could in a challenging business but I have several concerns. Lots of people who work in publishing are there because they would love to be successful authors themselves but they couldn’t make it work. This tells me that while they’re capable of seeing what has been successful in the past, they typically can’t readily see what could be prosperous in the future. If they could, many would be writing it themselves. Make an effort with the publishing business, of course, because it may be for you. However, if you have tried and got nowhere (which will be the case for the huge majority of writers) then disregard that course and form your own. With today’s technology, there is not any reason not to and every reason to. The world is available as never before and it will only become more so at a rapid rate. Besides, in such a struggling industry as publishing in a fast-changing world of communication, do you want to be involved with conventional publishing? Did you know that for every ten books publishers create; seven is going to be a financial burden, two will break even, and one will hopefully make enough of a profit to encourage all the others. You certainly don’t want to be the writer losing money for your publisher or even the one breaking . But do you want to be the one supporting everyone else? Maybe, maybe not. The world is changing, We can also.