Making it a point to think deeply on what I will be writing before I sit down to write each day is important to me. It helps me to be able to sit down and type without the fetter of constant over-thinking. (Not that I don’t overthink: I just over-think it first, so I can let things flow later.) Everything I write gets edited to some degree, by me a couple times and then by my editor and proofreader; but there are some things she never sees, because every once in a while I’m just not happy with a piece. Sometimes it’s a scene or a chapter in a book, and other times it’s a blog post or newsletter message.
Those are when a total rewrite is called for. When I say total, I mean total. Very little of what goes into one version makes it into the next, although one often paves the path for the other in a wonderful way. If it’s a chapter or a scene, the old version gets deleted forever when the new one is done; but when it’s a blog, that’s not necessarily the best idea. The reason I re-wrote the introduction to this blog was because I wanted to introduce it differently. It wasn’t that I didn’t like what I had said in the original introduction; it was just that I wanted to say something else instead.
So I kept it, and stowed it in my electronic binder. It was actually what inspired me to make bonus posts a regular feature on my blog, and I planned to share it later from the very beginning. Now that we’re pretty well into the blog, I thought it would be fun to share that original introduction with those folks that have enjoyed reading some of it. Don’t worry, if you have been enjoying it; this is not an end or a new beginning, and the posts will run through the end of the year as scheduled. Then the best of it will be combined with what more I have learned in the meantime, and it will all be compiled into a book. There won’t be any missing of any beats, though; next year there will still be a weekly blog.
It just won’t be about this stuff.
This kind of a blog really belongs on Sudden Insight Publishing’s website, and when I do the next series like this that is where it will go. My blog should be a fun way to get to know me for my readers, not a bunch of rants from a writer about writing. That’s what you’ll see here next year, and I do hope you enjoy it.
Right now, I would like to share that original introduction with you. I found it inspiring when I read it again, after all this time; and I hope that other writers find it inspiring as well.
We’ll forego the drumroll. Here it is:
Sometimes the most important thing is changing what the most important thing you’re doing is. It can be easy to let things climb to the top of the list that don’t belong there, stepping on the face of your dreams as they do. The most difficult thing we can honestly face is the stark truth of our own circumstances; yet there is no other way to change them. I knew all these things years ago; yet I wasn’t acting. I was dreaming of a future whose details eluded me as surely as I was ducking the work that would create that future. Now, looking back, it seems like it was an easy path to get where I am. That’s the thing about working hard; the number of tasks that need to be completed look like a big mountain as it looms on the horizon. Then you look back, after reaching what you thought was the summit, and a couple things strike you.
First, that wasn’t as hard as you thought it would be. Once you commit to doing something, especially if that something is a step on the path to your destiny, that commitment changes you. There’s no choice at that point; get it done, or die trying. Failure is not an option because failure is redefined by the committed mind. It is not missing a goal or deadline, or monumentally screwing something up; those are learning opportunities for a committed person, not failures. It’s not even failure when you make a habit of making mistakes, or screw up repeatedly; it’s only failure when you give up, and abandon your dreams. For the committed person, that may as well be death; if the artist’s soul is not finding expression, the artist may as well not exist.
The second realization is a more humbling one. You are not at the summit. This is just the beginning. If you continue to toil at this level, then you will continue to toil at this level. Go ahead, laugh at my statement of the obvious; then ask yourself how many people double their income every few years, or get noticeably stronger or smarter as time passes. The truth is, toil and struggle are much more common than actual hard work. Once you reach that first summit and realize that it’s only base camp, you realize that it’s time to learn the difference.
Toiling invites looking back more than it does looking forward; yet the only thing worth looking back over is the sum of your own hard work. Once the habit of working hard is ingrained, so is the habit of looking ahead. There’s no time to gloat over yesterday’s accomplishments, or fuss over its missteps; there’s work to do. This is the place where it’s tempting to put your nose to the grindstone and tune out the rest of the world. But we can’t do that at base camp; we have a path to forge, and that path exists in the world that we are so tempted to ignore.
That’s why I’m writing this blog series. It’s important to have an honest look around when you reach that base camp, and even more important to look ahead. Having a look back can also have a profound effect, however, when done from the proper perspective. That’s what I’m exploring with this series, taking a look back while it’s still fresh in my memory, and reminding myself that what I have accomplished as of today looked nearly impossible a few years ago. This is a message to my yesterday self, in many ways; reading this could have chopped a lot of time off the path I did take to get here. Those thinking of writing, or of writing more, may find that they are in the same place I was not so long ago as they read. Whether they love my books or hate them, or haven’t read them, the fact that they exist is still undeniable.
And that’s the thing, the only thing I would have had to say to myself back then to get his attention: I have four books published, another completed and set to drop in two months, and seven more scheduled by the end of the year. (Note from present Jay: this was written about two months before ‘Zombie Zero: The First Zombie’ dropped. Those numbers have changed since I wrote this. Obviously.) That’s not counting the other books I have helped publish, or have written something for: that’s just my books. Next year I will definitely publish at least two more, even if nothing changes. If the changes I would like to see happen do happen, it will be at least five.
Yesterday Jay would freak out at that kind of news, and make all kinds of erroneous presumptions. It would take a while to explain to him that the summit he’s gazing at is not a summit at all, and that everything looks totally different from up here. It would take even longer to give him any kind of hope, or actionable advice, without overwhelming the poor guy. So I’ll send messages back into the past weekly, hoping he can digest it in small pieces. As I recall, he’s having a little trouble finding a reason to even get out of bed in the morning. I’ll have to talk to him a little about that next week.
I’ll also let him know that there is another series starting that he should check out. It sort of goes with this one, covering all the things that my partner did to make this dream begin to come true before my very eyes. I could not have done it without her doing her part, while I did mine; and this would not be an honest introduction if I did not acknowledge that. That being said, my focus here is to go back to slightly before Dawn came back into my life; the change that had to take place in me had to happen before I saw my way clear to reaching out to her…and that’s where we’ll start out next week.
Thanks for reading!
Okay, it’s Today Jay again. Wasn’t that fun? Those posts Dawn was going to write are now written, and you can read ‘Polish Before You Publish’ on SuddenInsightPublishing.com if you haven’t already. This week we’re actually not talking about how to motivate ourselves out of bed in the morning, or those changes that had to take place in me…we talked about those things already, in ‘The Write Thing To Do’ and ‘The Right Partner’. We will be talking about what the motivated author does with some of those precious waking hours. Don’t forget to come on back Friday, for some ideas on ‘Putting Yourself To Work’.
Once again, thanks for reading!
All the best,