Quickie #2 If at first you don’t succeed…

PROMPT: Why do you think some people are successful in life and others are not?

I think it depends on the amount of DRIVE and DISCIPLINE a person has to succeed. Some people can focus on a goal and try for it single-mindedly. They never give up. They take the hits and still keep going. These people want to be better than mediocre; better than their parents were maybe. They are the leaders and trend setters and rebels that press always forward, whether their goal is CEO of a conglomerate or the scientist who makes a break through with Cancer treatment.

Drive makes a difference.

But also discipline.

Something early on in their childhood set them on a course for success. Maybe it was stern parenting or a challenging school teacher. It could be enrollment into sports or music lessons. Something that required the child to focus and get through the hard stuff. Maybe it was curiosity or a real talent for being GOOD at a particular thing. Whatever it was, these special people realized that it was hard work that was always going to get them where they wanted to go so they developed a drive.

Not everyone has this quality though. Some people are fine with mediocre. They’re fine having just enough. It could be a financially poor situation that taught them to be grateful with “just enough” or a godly devotion to work on being spiritual rather than materialistic. Or it could be straight up laziness. Or entitlement; everything was given to them so they never had to work for what they wanted.

Yes, all people have dreams and goals but they may not have the will to reach for them. When one way fails they may not see any other way around or don’t have the energy to research other options. They may not even know WHAT opportunities are out there for them. It could genuinely be a lack of knowledge or resources.

I do believe that drive and discipline can be learned/taught however, for those willing to do the work. It won’t be easy at all. Changing a fundamental part of your being, even for the better, is HARD. But you have to ask yourself, is it worth it to finally know what your dreams taste like in your reality?

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Cowboy up!

Writing is tough. It is. Authors put parts of their souls onto paper for people to critique or love or hate. The idiots that scoff and wave their hands and say writing is easy obviously have never tried. Not seriously anyway.

In a way, writing is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life. Even giving birth to my two children was easy compared to this. The pain was temporary and the joy is endless. Not so with a novel. You toil much and edit mercilessly for a manuscript that MIGHT get published or most likely, will get rejected.

I failed my challenge this month. I failed my 52k in May. I had a lot of life-changing shit going on so excuse me for not being able to concentrate on making my dreams come true. Even professional writers get reprieves for this kind of stuff.

I’m not as upset by this as I used to be. I used to beat myself up every NaNoWriMo I didn’t win. I realize now that there’s no rush to make this particular dream come true because I can get published at any age and there’s a whollleeeeee lot I need to learn before that can happen anyway.

The most important lesson I’ve learned over the last couple years is this:

Dust yourself off. Get on the bull again. Cowboy up!

Cowgirl…whatever.

I got knocked on my ass. I took a break despite many blogs advising against it. (Taking advice is another part of my journey I suppose.) Things are still shaky and weird and the writing momentum is completely lost. So now it’s time to build myself back up. I won’t be able to write 2K a day but I CAN write everyday. That’s more important anyway. Write until it becomes habit. It’s the foundation of every novelist.

This is one of the reasons I say writing is one of the hardest things to do, especially for nublets. Changing habits can be hard. Learning to set aside time to write and make it a priority when everything else is also pressing against you wanting to be number one priority as well is exhausting to sort out. It feels like when you bring one thing closer and focus on it, everything else goes to crap.

Exercise more and the house suffers.

Cook and eat healthier and the writing suffers.

Write more and the family suffers.

I bet you didn’t know you’d have to learn to juggle when you decided to become a writer huh? Yeah me either.

I know it’s all about balance and finding the routine that works for you. But even this can crumble under the overwhelming circumstances. So what do ya do?

COWBOY UP.

Get right back on it. Accept the fact you failed this time and you probably will many more times afterward. But never sink low enough to be a quitter. Remember this is the path you chose. You didn’t choose it because it was easy. You chose your dream and now you have to follow it.

“Does the walker choose the path or the path choose the walker?”~ Abhorsen, Garth Nix

Even if it’s by a thread, hang on. Face the fear of failure and conquer it by choosing everyday to write one word. Ten words. Five hundred words. Take a break if you need; reevaluate your priorities if you need. You can change the direction of your path. Just don’t quit on it completely.

My grip on this concept is tenuous at best right now. I remember when I started this I was going to have novels piled on more novels and I was going to make millions and put my girls through college. I was going to tour the US and Europe like J.K. Rowling and be famous and then take a sojourn to my little castle on a hill somewhere with my herd of Pit Bull doggies.

That’s still possible. It’s just a much farther off vision than I anticipated. I’m scared it won’t ever happen. But that’s why having a solid foundation of good writing practices is important. Start at the base and then build your pillars. If they fall down, build them again, stronger. And above all don’t EVER give up.

Just don’t.

COWBOY UP instead.

Conquering biblio-phobia, one afflicted at a time

(Image is Maka Albarn and Soul from the anime “Soul Eater”)

“I blame you, you know.”

This statement was directed at me three times this week from three different people. (When it rains, it pours, no?)

“Oh lovely. What for?” I ask with trepidation.

In a fraction of a second I’d listed ten possibilities for deserving blame. What a guilty and skittish conscience I possessed!

“I didn’t like reading before you. Now I can’t walk into book stores with money or I become the proud owner of section four.”

*Blink Blink* “Oh.”

HA.

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Double HA! <–this is the sound of my soul laughing gleefully and with much sadistic pleasure. Truly, is there any greater blame to shoulder than that of “forcing” books on people? I’m happy to be guilty of this. It’s shaped my life really. My mother read to me every night before bed when I was a kid and she was always reading herself.  Then I entered school and had the pleasure of choosing my OWN books from the library. Wonder of wonders! It took off from there. Words became my life.

I was the weird kid that wanted to go to the library instead of the park when we had a choice. I was only allowed to take out three books of one subject at the time, which was fair for most people. Three books in three weeks. HA. More like three books in two days. Mom started having to check out extras for me to last me the week until we could go back. Finally the librarians threw up their hands and let me get as many as I wanted. I was on a first name basis with everyone.

My sister was not this kind of person and it was through her I saw the other side of things. She was an action person. If she had a choice she would Energizer Bunny her way through everyday, eating on the go, sleeping on the go, going on the go… She had no patience or time for books. She got frustrated with the words she couldn’t pronounce and couldn’t understand and she was embarrassed to read aloud. She grew to hate it. When there were books as required reading for school she would have to seek out the large print editions to help her focus better and mom would have to sit for a grueling hour to get through one chapter. It was the most difficult task to sit, read and absorb. I felt sometimes she was Golem from Lord of the Rings:

“We will reads the books, but we HATESSS ITTTT!”

Complete with hissing and spitting.

Such an alien concept for me. She lived for reality and I lived for my imagination. Once my sister was out of school and she was free of books she ran away and didn’t look back for many, many years. Meanwhile, I was filling my shelves with paper goodness and plowing through my first writing endeavors.

She was one of the people who laid blame squarely on my shoulders this week for turning her into a book eater. She found a book at one of my library sales and she liked it so much she got the second one. And then the third. My sister willingly BOUGHT a book. With her own money. And then, be still my heart, she asked me for recommendations.

Yep.

*blink blink* Wha….?

I think I marked the day on my calendar. August something or other two years ago. (It was also the day my radiator cracked. It was a yin/yang day.)

The other two victims were no less shocking to me although in different ways.

One was my long time friend from middle school. She was much like my sister; always go go go! She wasn’t as averse to books as my sis but she found most of them boring and predictable. If she was going to read something cover to cover, it had to be something beautiful and challenging, like Shakespeare or John Milton. She aced book reports and read perfectly outloud but there were much more interesting things to do for her. She teased me, ever the book worm, for always having my nose in a book.

We parted ways for a long time, going to different High Schools and then life taking us to different cities. When we reconnected later though, well into our adult years but still ‘forever’ friends. (One of those friends that, no matter how long you go without seeing, will always feel like no time has passed at all when you see each other again.) We set a date to meet up for dinner and drinks and after the shock of seeing each other fatter and wiser, we got to talking. As per usual with me, books had to slip into the conversation.

“That reminds me, ” she said. “While we’re here I need to try to find the last book in a series I’ve been reading. They don’t have it in the store near my place.”

*Blink* “Really?!”

I felt my ears grew like a cartoon character’s, engulfing our booth with their keen awareness of the words “Need Last Book”. MY friend. My PICKY book friend wanted a book. Joy of joys! I threw down my napkin and asked for the check. We did indeed find that book for her and we both left feeling satisfied. When she returned years later (under less auspicious circumstances) her visits became a regular occurrence at my house and she snorted at my “hoarding”. By this time I had three tall shelves double stacked with books and a pile waist-high on the floor, also double stacked. (Shhhh.)

Well. One thing led to another and soon her tote bag was heavy with inked dead trees full of awesome. I couldn’t help smirking. Two for two. We didn’t have the same tastes and that’s okay. I was at about a 50% approval rating from her but she managed to find her own interests amongst my shelves. Still a win. I deserved that smirk of triumph, dammit!

Last to lay blame was an unexpected person. He’s a very mature and learned guy. Well-traveled thanks to being in a military family, an Online School honor student most of his life, knowledgeable and healthy and active. He seemed to have the whole package from my point of view. But he had a fatal flaw. Yes, you can probably guess.

He was book poor. Owen, my darling, I love you but you’re on this list.

*GASSSPPPP!*

I KNOW! How does such a smart guy become this way?! His reasoning was entirely different from the other two afflicted and probably baffled me the most. His reluctance for literature was more that “he chose bad books.”

*Blink blink* HOW THE FU**——?!

AHEM.

I am ever a student of life. This was news to me.

Yes, he somehow managed to choose the exact wrong books for himself. Frugal to begin with, the thought of spending money had to be a careful decision for him. Then insert the millions of titles out there to peruse and no wonder my poor friend felt like hiding under a rock! And then finally to have the bad luck to choose novels that let him down…

Well. As a connoisseur of fiction, I offered to him the gentle hand of friendship and made him a list of my most favorite books. This seemed an acceptable form of research for him. He could do his own contemplation on them via the interwebz and decide for himself if it was something he wanted to buy in his own time. To further ease his anxiety about spending money on books I recommended he first try Second Hand stores. They were about half the price or cheaper for books at a chain store and there was less pressure from the sales people to make a purchase or push their recommendations on him. It was endless books and peacefulness with the smell of dust and old paper in your nose.

HEAVEN.

Much to our mutual delight, the first trilogy on the list was a success. I rejoiced with him for weeks as he delved in and grew more interested. We talked and laughed and shared quotes back and forth. It was a beautiful feeling. Not only did I have a new person to talk about my favorite books with but he now had a positive experience with a book! THREE of them!

It didn’t stop there, much to my delight. My second and third titles also caught his interest and he began to actively pursue acquiring them in preparation for reading. After this happened, he then had the confidence to purchase, of his own accord, an entirely new series I had not even heard of. He purchased them on Amazon and they came to him in the mail. He thus got to experience the agony of waiting and the mini Christmas celebration of getting packages in the mail.

~Deck the halls with books and shelves, Muahahahaha hahahahaaaaaaa…~

I’m 3/3 curing these beloved afflicted of their Biblio-phobia and I could not be prouder of us. There’s a great joy in sharing interests with people who are receptive to them. You create a rapport and a new thread of trust is formed, adding to the rope already connecting you.

I don’t mind giving myself a pat on the back for this. My purpose on this earth is to inspire and create. They are a living manifestation of my dream.

*PAT PAT*

To hopefully further this dream, I’m going to include a brief list of the books I have recommended to my family and friends that we’ve mutually enjoyed. These recommendations are  mostly fantasy based with some sci-fi and romance thrown in. Big thanks to Goodreads for providing summaries for these 😉

“Sabriel” , “Lirael”, “Abhorsen” (The Abhorsen Trilogy)–Garth Nix

“The Belgariad”–composed of 5 books–“Pawn of Prophecy”, “Queen of Prophecy” “Magicians Gambit”, “Castle of Wizardry”, “Enchanter’s Endgame“–David Eddings

“Daughter of the Forest”, “Son of the Shadows”, “Child of the Prophecy” (The Sevenwaters Trilogy)–Juliet Marillier

“Iron King”, “Iron Daughter”, “Iron Queen”, “Iron Knight” (The Iron Fey Series)–Julie Kagawa

“The Unexpected Dragon”–Mary Brown

“The Wee Free Men” (Discworld #30)–Terry Pratchett (READ ANY AND ALL OF HIS BOOKS!)

“Archangel”, “Jovah’s Angel”, “The Alleluia Files”“Angelica”, “Angel Seeker” (The Samaria Series)–Sharon Shinn

“Neverwhere”–Neil Gaiman

“Men in Kilts”–Katie MacAlister

“The Devil Wears Prada”— Lauren Weisberger

“Eat, Pray, Love” –Elizabeth Gilbert

“In her Shoes”–Jennifer Weiner