So, I know the title of this blog is a little dramatic, but I wanted to sit down and write a few confessions down. I remember going to writing conferences and listening to women in their 60’s and 70’s who had given up on writing due to the demands of life, only to return once retired and regret the years they spent away. At the time, I remember thinking that I would never be that way. Then, I turned 30 and my life became more demanding (and I don’t even have a family yet!). I had no more “time” and writing was put on the shelf.
This happened before when I went to college, but something was different this time. So, here’s my confession. About a month ago I had decided that I was going to stop writing. I wasn’t reaching my goals (which are probably still a little too outlandish). I was struggling to find the time anyway. And, let’s face it, life would just be a little easier. Imagine. No more book signings. No more haphazardly trying to figure out how to market. No more editing and social media. No more writing. The thought used to make me cry, but this year I was ready to give in.
Then, on my long commute, a scene from the novel I had abandoned began to take shape in my mind. I realized what I had already known…I am a writer. That is a part of my design. And it is something I don’t think I can ever “turn off.” I happened to flip to Barbara Walter’s special on the most fascinating people and I saw Michael Strahan. He said something that struck me. She asked if he was a natural talent (in football and on television). He said no. He worked hard. And then he said he thinks so many “natural talents” get passed over by those who work hard.
This really hit home for me. I had always heard that the persistent win. I had also recognized that the world honors those who work hard…most times. But I had never thought of the alternative. Natural talent won’t get you there. You won’t just be “discovered” one day if you patiently wait, because, after all, you’re talented. Why are there so many bestselling books out with writers who are arguably not the best? Because they worked hard. That’s the requirement. So, the reason I gave up is also the requirement for having a shot at persevering.
The question becomes, am I willing to accept that it is just a shot? Am I willing to accept that I may work hard and never reach my full potential? As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, this angers me. And yet, sitting in that car living in a world I created…that is who I am. It is not a choice for me. For me, the question is: can I live with myself if I never even tried? Today, that answer is no. And, I hope that is how it remains.
“My tastes are simple: I am easily satisfied with the best.”~ Winston S. Churchill
I think this quote speaks to me because I am a self-proclaimed perfectionist. I remember hearing somewhere…I’m sorry to say I think it was from Dr. Phil…that perfectionists wear themselves out. I can see why. It’s hard to hold myself to that standard, especially because it is unrealistic.
Most who know me know I am a complete klutz. I have actually been known to trip on my own two feet. I drop things all the time and I even seem to choke on nothing. But, even through this blaring imperfection, I strive for perfect.
I, of course, blame it on my parents. They told me to always do my best. Do one-hundred and ten percent, they said. This sort of proclaims to strive for the impossible–beyond perfect. Yet, I would rather live my life reaching for perfect than settling for mediocre.
Surrounded by teenagers during my day job, I am constantly shown those who settle. They settle for the barest of grades. They settle for the lightest of work. They even settle for the lowest effort of friends. But what can become of a life set to mediocre? Not much. But, what can come from a life set to the impossibly high? Perhaps greatness. So, reach for one-hundred and ten percent. But don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t perfect, only if you are mediocre.
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There is nothing like the changing of the seasons on Atlantis. The air crisps like bread in the oven. Leaves change against the evergreen backdrop of pine. Even the horses seem to perk at the coolness. Like everything in life, the joy will soon turn to a dreary winter. But, for at least a few moments in life, everything stops to celebrate.
I miss being young during this time. As an adult, I am too often away from home. On one hand, it is good that I am gone. Every place I travel reminds me of why I love my country. Sure, there are things we need to work on. No place is perfect. But, if I were always here, it would be easy to forget the good and focus on what needs to change.
But, alas, I still wish to be young again, when the demands of life and obligations of jobs kept me away from the appreciation of life. I miss the harvest festivals this time of year: the piles of apples and pumpkins, the hayrides and barrel races, the times when everyone stopped to laugh and play. I miss the newborn puppies playing with children in the field. I miss the sound of birds filling the trees, a mere pit stop on a long migration to warmer weather. Every now and then, I would fly among them. I couldn’t “speak” to them, but they have their own body language. It was so blissful.
Oh, to be young again. When life was not quite so complex. When the only thing that mattered was who to sit with during math lessons and who would walk next to you on the long path home. The problem with adulthood is the lack of “play” time. We need to learn to let go and laugh on a daily basis. We need to set aside worries for an evening and just be. I watch so many work themselves to exhaustion.
But, then again, I work in government, where people are responsible for the lives of their citizens. Those kids playing in the fields depend upon the treaties that are signed and the laws that are enforced. There would be no childhood without a core set of individuals who sacrifice time…and maybe sanity…toward working out the tough problems of the world.
So, I will accept the blessing of the fall. I will cherish the time I can spend reminiscing in joys of the past. I will look forward to meeting those times again. I do hope they don’t come when I am in the kingdom of Clieto. But, I will strive to make this place better now, while I am able. I will push for perfection every day, all the while thinking of the harvest and the apples and the crispness and the flight.
After all, isn’t that what life is about? Growing up in joy and bliss, working to guarantee other generations have access to their turn, and then ending life slow cherishing a return to joy and bliss? I certainly hope so.
I have had the pleasure of calling Jude Johnson a friend and colleague. She is a vivacious spirit and is eager to help any writer. Today, I wanted to spotlight an event she’s hosting in Tucson, Az on November 23rd from 9am until 3 pm. I hope you can stop by and say hi to all of the wonderful local authors in the area…and me of course. 🙂
1. Tell us a little bit about Gecko Gals Inc.
We are Gecko Gals Ink, to indicate we are writers. Five sassy, “Differently Expertised” writers who are first and foremost, friends who support one another. We give back to the Tucson community by offering seminars for writers who wish to become published and workshops for teens to strengthen their writing skills.
2. Do you find paring with other authors helps you organize signings, events, etc? Does it help you with sales, for instance? Does it add to or decrease the “time factor” of promotion?
It is said that writing is a lonely business, which is true in the creation process. But marketing and selling your books doesn’t have to be. We’ve found that book signings are often a crapshoot—sometimes the public is in the mood for your stuff, sometimes they aren’t. If you are with an author of a different genre, you increase the odds that one of you will have what the customer desires. At the very least you’ll have company with whom to commiserate if the traffic is poor and sales slow. But quite often I’ve found once the sales ice breaks so to speak, people are more inclined to purchase from more than one author. We’ve also learned we Geckos can be in two or even three places at once with one or two members at one event, one member at another, and still one more at a third. Unfortunately, we each still have to market, which is the bane of authors everywhere.
3. Tell us a little bit about the All-Zona Book Fest. What is it? What brought it about?
This is the Second (Maybe-Annual) All-Zona Book Fest and we’ll be at St. Francis Cabrini Church Hall, 3201 East Presidio Road in Tucson. You could say we’re the Indie Channel for Arizona authors: giving authors the opportunity to shine and readers the chance to find a new storyteller to follow. This year we have forty-six authors involved; some you may have heard about, some are freshly published for the first time. We’ll be working with KVOA Channel Four’s Kristi’s Kids to collect book donations for school-aged children (K-12) which will be distributed through Reading Seed Literacy Volunteers. St. Vincent DePaul charity is also holding a Silent Auction and White Elephant sale and will have refreshments available for a nominal price.
What brought it about? We saw a need. We have some great book festivals in this state that bring in big names and best sellers. Nothing wrong with that at all. Unfortunately, local treasures can get lost in the shuffle. Even with the sea change in publishing moving from traditional large houses/distribution to smaller regional presses, independents, and ebooks, many large festivals still exclude authors going that route from participating in a significant manner. We wanted to showcase those authors and give the public a way to find them in an easily accessible way. The All-Zona Bookfest is also happy to work with and support one of Tucson’s feisty independent bookstores, Mostly Books.
(For more about this event, please visit: http://geckogalsink.wix.com/all-zonabookfest)
4. What is the number one piece of advice you would give to a new author trying to make it in today’s market?
“Drink heavily.” (Ha ha, kidding. Maybe.)
“Close your eyes and jump.” Don’t be afraid to try new markets, new ways to promote, or new events to learn what works best for you. Failure isn’t fatal. It’s a great teacher. We all have so much to learn.
To learn more about the lovely writers at Gecko Gals Inc., here’s where you can find them: