Year...in Review...Or something similar.
Always sounds impressive doesn't it? I used to listen to those song compilations complete with news that surrounded their airplay as a kid. It all sounded so remarkable, as if the times we lived in were monumental and would be held up as an example to following generations.
So much for that. Much of the culture I grew up in is either a source of shame or hilarity depending on whether its being examined by a social critic or a comic. But as we've been told for years, write what you know. Every generation has lessons, and ours were pretty profound...to us anyway. In summary, I think we left things better than we found them. And that is a pretty good start. So I reference that era early and often in my writing.
Fortunately, no one is hanging around waiting for my infrequent posts. Most of the time I feel like the lone reporter jotting down his observations in an end of the world movie. Maybe, some archivist will stumble upon them and find something useful contained within.
I imagine its like all of us as we struggle for recognition. Each of us sat down and constructed our life long dream to share these stories rambling around in our heads and find our audience. Not for riches, we knew better than that. Artists like Fitzgerald, Maugham, and Hemingway are pretty rare. They made bags of money and are revered long after their passing. Most of the writers I know would settle for a few thousand avid readers who care about the stories they tell. And maybe enough money to rent a seaside cabin for a summer. And of course, spend our time doing more writing in it.
We took advantage of the time provided by the pandemic, and put ourselves to work. As it turns out, so did everyone else. It was always difficult to find an agent who took and interest in your work. Now its ridiculously impossible. Agents are so lined up, that they can't possibly even take a cursory look at everything submitted.
Ah yes Mike, but we have an advantage those who came before us didn't have, self-publishing!
True. And I'm grateful. I've published five novels this year. Five. I have two more in the works for next. To say I never expected to do that would be a hilarious understatement. But because of self-publishing, I have my work in a professional form out for public consumption. I built a website. I blog (occasionally). If I'd stumbled across a willing agent, everything would have been handed to me. I wouldn't have tried silly marketing ads to try and attract attention. I would NEVER had opened a Twitter account, or created a presence on Instagram.
You know, I'm almost happy I couldn't find an agent. I know things I didn't know last year at this time, and as I profess to my students, (hence, professor) life is about learning and doing.
And the people! Authors and readers from all around the globe! And I'm going to share an observation that many of you already know. Dylan West is going to make it folks. Big. If there is an 'IT' factor for authors, he has it. He researches everything to the final detail, creates a plan, and executes. And of course, his work is superb. Another lesson for someone like me that doesn't throw himself completely into the work.
All the people. Like the line from Logan's Run where Peter Ustinov never knew anyone but his parents until he met Logan. Yep. he wanted to see all the people more than anything. Well, we're meeting them. And I'll never believe there is one of us who would want to make it by stepping on someone else. I've always been a Pollyanna that way. Now I know lot's of other folks who feel the same.
So there it is. I'm better off than I was, just like all those year end compilations I recall. Despite the frustrations and setbacks, the goals we didn't meet, the connections that didn't pan out...lots of you feel the same.
Let's take time to be proud of ourselves, and raise a glass to the writing community. For those Fitzgerald's, Maugham's, and Hemingway's out there working toward their inevitable
discovery...they will take part of us with them. Kind of like Maslow's Pyramid, isn't it? Every new level is based on the essence of the one preceding it.
Now if you ever take one of my courses, you will have an idea what to expect. Did I mention Greenleaf's Servant Leadership?
All the best in the new year friends!
Your pal, Mike.