I feel your pain, especially since I just got the notification that I'll be getting my 20 year service award at my "day job." I thought I'd be a full time writer by now, or at least cutting back to working outside of the home part time!
The truth is that ALL of us go into writing with unrealistic expectations. We know that making a full-time living out of it is a long shot, but we're convinced that we'll be "the one." The truth is that it's a brutal industry. Ebooks have made it easier to at least get published, but that doesn't guarantee readers. Many here have mentioned that there's too much competition with visual forms of media (TV, movies, YouTube, etc). That's true. The market is saturated and standing out amongst all of that (because it's also our competition, along with other books) is difficult.
The truth is that a "true" writer keeps writing because they have stories to tell, and they love telling them. It has frustrations, like everything else in life, but we keep at it because it's in our soul. We HAVE to be writers. Hopefully, readers will follow. Maybe so, maybe not – In the end, reaching readers is like that trick where you threw jello at the wall in college: sometimes it stuck, sometimes it didn't --
I say don't give up completely yet, but maybe take a break and consider whether this is something you really want to see bear fruit in your life. If it's too frustrating, let it go. If the passion to write is still there, dust yourself off and keep at it.
I share this because in reflection, I believe that unrealistic expectations are at the core of a lot of our disappointments in life. Heck, I believe it’s the entire reason for the “mid-life crisis,” and other issues we face with identity and authenticity. Of course, we never know what we’re getting into when we start something new. We’re excited, and motivated by the success we’ve seen others achieve ahead of us. What we don’t see is what it took to get them there, or what happened to others who didn’t achieve those high goals – or worse yet, the problems lurking behind the scenes that nobody talks about (or might even see). Every journey is unique. There’s no way to know how reality will unfold for us. The only thing that’s certain is that no two journeys are alike, so ours will be uniquely ours alone.
We all have low points where we struggle with disappointment and frustration over the obstacles in our way, or lack of progress. It’s really tough when you look around and see everybody succeeding, and it seems like all you do is struggle and work. If you find yourself in that place, I offer you two tidbits of reality to help bring you back into balance:
- No life is perfect. What you see in others is only the outer shell of the whole story. I’ve had many people tell me “gosh, you’re an accomplished writer.” Define “accomplished.” Yes, I’ve published a lot of novels. What they don’t see is 19 years of changing genres twice, working to break into the ebook market, dodging scams, and too many attempts at promotional opportunities that fell flat. I am seeing progress since I switched to writing sci-fi, but it’s still incremental. And I’m still at that day job, going on 20+ years now. Then again, that day job feeds the writing as well, through resources and inspiration. Perhaps it is a symbiotic circle that has just the right balance in all the right ways.
Real life has struggles and failures. It happens to us all. Life is no respecters of persons, and the truth is that we all have things in life that could be better whether we’re up or down. That thorn in the flesh is universal and permanent in this world. If somebody insists that their life is perfect, they’re either lying, or they made a deal with the devil to get it. Wow, that’s nothing to envy! I think I’d rather have a real life with other real people, thank you very much.
But consider this: the devil only bothers people who bother him, so if he’s getting in your way, then you must be doing something right! Resistance may come, but it’s not always because you’re doing something wrong. Sometimes, it’s because you’re doing things right. Remember the saying about no good deed going unpunished.
- Take a break to check your motives. If you’re doing what you’re doing for any reason other than it’s in your heart and you feel Spirit led to take this path, then you need to put on the brakes and consider your true motivations. Doing one thing to escape another never works, because undealt with problems always come back. What you really need is honesty and direction for a course of action that will bring you in better alignment with your purpose.
They don’t tell you this in the motivational graduation speeches, but a lot of life is doing the best you can and rolling with it. It’s also the dull, boring monotony of every day life building up to sowing a harvest of blessing in the future. Maybe you’ll hit it big, maybe not. Nobody knows what destiny holds in store. All you can do is keep praying, keep hoping, keep seizing opportunities, keep doing the best you can in all you do with purity of heart, keep an attitude of gratitude for what you have, and keep the faith. As the Bible says, never grow weary of doing good, because in due season you will reap, if you don’t lose heart. (Galatians 6:9)
We all struggle with disappointment. That’s natural, and you aren’t alone. Try not to take your emotions too hard – just get in prayer, take a break, and wait for a word in season to lead you on the right path. That never leads you wrong. And remember: you aren’t bad, or a failure. You are human. Thanks be to God. Sometimes, being normal is ok.
In closing, I want to follow up on my last blog by mentioning that I’m on a news blackout! I’ve had it with this political mess. It’s a circus, and these clowns aren’t funny. Right now, my news is limited to local news and weather. Nobody’s got time for that! I’ve got work to do and books to write.
With that, I say that’s all today. Take care. Have a Happy Friday and a wonderful weekend.