Said my neighbor, two weeks ago, as we took out our bins. “Should I be pruning mine also?” He asked with the openness of an eager apprentice. He’s a long-time house husband. He has run his home and kids and acted as a support person for his wife’s busy career as competently as any housewife could. However, he’s not quite so happy with his garden. Although respectable, he states it is lacking compared with other gardens he admires.
“No, do not prune your roses,” I said. “It’s still summer. It is the wrong time of year but you understand meI garden by instinct.” I had been on a huge gardening cleanup which 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 kids are spread out in age, I learned to garden quickly and efficiently because of the time constraints of having young children. What also worked was to keep planting things. Whatever grew; great. Whatever died; take no notice. Stay true to what your tastes are in gardens but don’t be rough and rigid about what the garden should look like. Go with the flow; not only of the seasons but also of how 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 have a second life in Autumn.” He was about to re-ask if he should do the exact same thing but then realised we were on a circular route. He did remember with humour how one of our elderly Greek neighbours would get out his chainsaw to prune the roses and would spend five minutes exceptionally hacking off all of the branches. Job done. I asked about his resulting roses.
“Beautiful,” said my neighbour. “He had bloody beautiful roses.” Then he shrugged and decided to proceed with the traditional gardening scheduling rather than my irregular one. We both knew he’d be watching my backyard to decide upon the failure or success of the unconventional method.
To me, achievement in writing is similar to success in gardening.
Stay true to yourself and your loves. Say what you have inside you. Say it bravely and with good intent.
Keep planting. Take only momentary notice of what expires. Use failures and flops as learning devices. Trust your own destiny.
Write instinctively, disregarding what others think or do. Your instincts may be quite different to other people’s.
Do not be egotistical. Don’t search 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 which you’re interested in sharing for the benefit of the others’ well-being. Frankly, all egos are interested in fame so don’t be too hasty in announcing your innocence of it, unless you truly are. And as the saying goes, Those who know, don’t say. Those who don’t know, say.
Do your best. Sometimes your best will be better than at other times. Do your best, one day at a time. That is good enough.
The first person your writing ought to be valuable to is you. After taking a look at something you have created, ask yourself if YOU think it is good. If you don’t think it’s good then make something else which corresponds to your highest sense of what you believe you are capable of creating at this stage. Don’t compare yourself to author, Paulo Coelho, with the maximum following of Facebook writers with a thirty-million-strong audience. Give what you are authentically capable of giving. Don’t pester your friends on social websites for support. They may support you, out of shame, but pity doesn’t a writer make. If you’re asking for assistance from your friends (no matter how you phrase it) then you are not in a position to be giving them anything. They are giving to you. If all you honestly need to give, at this stage, is appreciated by only two followers then accept that, be grateful, and develop yourself at any and every way you can think of, with humility.
Love your writing as you would your garden. It’s ongoing. So relax and enjoy 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 have said or done. Often, many more people than you realise are blessed by something that you do. We only get told a small fraction of this impact we have on other folks. When we get the occasional compliment, we could take it as a reminder that there are people out there profiting from something we have invested ourselves in.
Be cautious of your peers. No offence to writing groups but that’s the last place I would want to go for help with my writing achievement. Like all peer groups, the main point is that they are fine so long as you’re no threat. If you’re intending to succeed in your chosen career, I would be very careful about spending too much time with peers who are struggling. Writers, like most groups of artistic people, place enormous hard work and terrific love into their work for, generally, very little in return. The ego, however sweetly it dresses itself, can’t help but believe that one person’s success is just another opportunity taken away from them in a seemingly intensely competitive market.
Likewise, against common opinion, I am somewhat sceptical about agents and publishers. They are definitely doing a much better job than I could in a challenging business but I have many concerns. Many people who work in publishing are there because they would like to be successful writers 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 cannot easily see what could be prosperous in the future. If they could, a lot of them would be writing it themselves. Make an effort with the publishing industry, clearly, because it might be for you. However, if you have tried and got nowhere (which will be the case for the vast majority of authors ) then disregard that course and form your own. With today’s technology, there’s absolutely not any reason not to and every reason to. The world is accessible as never before and it’ll only become more so at a rapid rate. Anyway, in such a fighting industry as publishing in a fast-changing world of communication, do you want to participate with conventional publishing? Maybe, maybe not. Did you know that for every ten books publishers produce; seven will be a financial burden, two will break even, and you will hopefully make enough of a profit to encourage all the others. You certainly don’t want to be the author losing money for your publisher or even the one breaking even. But do you want to be the one supporting everybody else? Maybe, maybe not. The world is changing, We can too.