Inspiration and Other Filthy Liars

I realize as I prepare to write this blog that I might come off as a little hypocritical. So I just want to assure you that this post is as much for me as it is for you.

Because I need to hear this too. Be reminded of it. Let the wisdom and words sink deep into my bones. Erase my excuses and get my arse back into shape. 

It's not easy. But it's necessary. 

So I have this friend. She wants to be a writer. Which is nothing new to me. If you've done this as long as I have or even if you haven't. Even if you've only done it a fraction of the time, you realize that most people on this earth want to be a writer. 

This big dream of mine? Yeah, not so unique.

The majority of humans I've met also want to be writers. They have this "idea" for a story they've wanted to write for years. It's a really good one. And super unique. They think it will do awesome. 

I can't tell you how many times I've heard this exact pitch. At book signings, at the supermarket, at family gatherings, at the DMV, at wherever I go. When people find out what I do for a living, I can promise you, I'll hear this more than once. 

Personally, even if the tone of this blog sounds skeptical or sarcastic, I think this is awesome. As a student of social anthropology, what this tells me is that each of us has lived life in such a unique way that we believe our stories are worth telling. 

No matter who we are or what we've done or what has been done to us, we still have a voice.

A voice that should be heard. 

Granted, there is a good chunk of the population that has zero desire to write a story or even a paragraph. But I don't think it's because they have any less inclination to "be heard" or to "tell their story" they just don't enjoy writing. 

They probably prefer math. The weirdos. 

These are the people that pitch me ideas about their own stories. They either hand it over for "free" as if giving me a gift. Or, they think it would be a fantastic idea for them to dictate while I write for them.

Okay, so I don't even have the time or mental energy to finish one of my own books... let alone write you a book so you can make money off me... but I still, truly, think this is amazing. 

It's human nature to want to be heard. It's also human nature to communicate through story telling. Long before nonfiction and the news came around, early humans passed down the history of their culture through storytelling. 

We still get to do that today. 

I'm also a firm believer in following your dreams. However crazy they may be. However outrageous or simple or practical they may be. 

And I don't think we should even limit ourselves to one dream. Have as many dreams as you like. Follow them all. Do all the things. Be all the things. 

I love being a writer. But one day I'd also like to own a food truck. If I had time, I would go back to school and get my masters and doctorate in something, I would do it in a heartbeat. Hopefully one day I will.

And I have even more dreams. Bigger dreams. Crazier dreams. Smaller dreams that I hope to accomplish in the next few years. But I have so. many. dreams. And after fighting this hard to carve out a small space for my books in the publishing world, I know they'll take hard work and time and strategic planning on my part. 

And that's okay.

Living out my dream job is the biggest privilege I could have imagined. It also has a huge amount of responsibility attached to it. 

Not just to my readers and what they expect of me. But to my family whom I help provide for. And also to myself, my heart and my health. 

I read a quote the other day that said, "Write until not writing makes you anxious." 

Isn't that good? Because if this is your dream... if you ache and long and desperately need to be a writer, then write until not writing feels weird. Until you don't feel right about going a day without it. Until your thoughts don't flow and your feelings don't process and your dreams don't move until you are writing them down. 

If writing is your dream, do it until you do it in your sleep and plot it when you're away from your computer and whisper it to your closest friends and shout it from the rooftops when it's finally finished. 

If you are one of the hundreds of people that have shared your dream with me over the last five years, then don't stop until you reach it. Until you've made this dream your career. 

And the same is true for anybody else reading this blog. Maybe you're dream isn't to be a writer. Maybe you want to be a CEO or the best mom in the world, an artist or doctor or world peace warrior. Whatever it is, fight for your dream with all that is in you. Until there is nothing left of the old you because all that remains is the you inside of your dream. The new you. The you you were always meant to be. 

I've thought about this a lot over the last few years. When all of these people are opening up to me about this big dream they've had their entire life. What separates me from them? What makes me so special that I get to live out this dream and they are still left to dream it? 

The answer is this... there is nothing special about me. There is nothing that makes me more and them less. There is nothing that makes my dream bigger than theirs or more attainable or more anything. 

We all start in the same place. 

At the beginning of my dream, I was a new mom with babies to take care of. I also worked 30+ hours outside of the home to help my family make ends meat. I had no formal education in writing. I had no resources outside of my computer and favorite novels. I had nobody I could go to for advice or direction or wisdom. I had no extra money to attend conferences or workshops or even online seminars. 

I had Google. And I had a fire inside of me that would not be put out. 

And that was it. 

When I first started writing self-publishing was not even a thing. It was not nearly this easy to publish a book. And I struggled and dragged my bloody, limp manuscripts through the mud every single day working to get published. 

I've told you my publishing story before, so I won't rehash that. But I want to make this point. It took me five years to make any money in publishing. 

Five years from when I started writing to when I made a paycheck worth smiling about. 

During that time I had a lot of opportunities to give up. There were more doors closed than opened. I felt like quitting more often than I ever felt like pushing forward. 

That's an understatement. Trust me. 

I remember carrying this heavy, crushing burden around every single day wondering if I was absolutely insane for wanting this thing that felt too big for me... too great for someone as little as me. 

I would say these prayers out of desperation, crying out to God to take this dream away from me because I could not handle the rejection anymore. I could not face the disappointment. And it felt so selfish... it felt like the worst thing to want something so badly that I would spend so much time in prayer for it, that I would beg God for it, that I would force my family to endure it with me. I would plead with God to strip me of this dream if it wasn't His plan for me because I couldn't see past it. I couldn't see beyond wanting and needing and hoping for this one thing. 

And the rejection. You guys. I still have a complex about it. I still expect to be rejected first. Turned down first. When opportunities knock on my door, I cannot get over my surprise.

Not after hundreds and hundreds of letters that said, "You're not good enough." 

Okay, maybe that wasn't their exact wording, but that's what it felt like. 

Over and over and over and over. 

Even after I published, there was still the reality that I could not sell books. It wasn't until I made my first book FREE- actually giving it away- that I started to see any interest in my work. While, I will preach about how that turned into an opportunity until I'm blue in the face, it didn't always feel like that. 

It still, in this warped, twisted, insecure way, felt like failure. 

I say all that to get to this point. Because I want you to understand... I want you to know that I have been where you're at. Maybe I've even been worse off than where you. Maybe you're so crippled by fear that you haven't even taken a step towards your dream. Maybe you're stuck right where I was at, in the middle of a whole lot of failure and rejection and you have no idea which way to go or if things will ever get better. Maybe you're so satisfied with mediocrity that you haven't even thought to take your dream seriously. 

(Like I said, a dream doesn't have to be this huge thing. It is whatever you want it to be. It's your dream. Your hope. Your decision. So if you are exactly happy with where you're at, then I'm not speaking to you. I'm definitely not trying to insult you. This post is exclusively for people that need a kick in the pants. And if that's not you, great job! We wish we could be you! But some of us need a little extra something-something.) 

The inspiration part of your dream takes up about 2% of what actually goes into accomplishing what you want. The Muse sticks around just long enough to inspire hope and stir this dream to life and then she flees like the fickle runaway bride that she is. 

Inspiration will get you no where. 

Let me say that again, Inspiration does not make your dreams come true. 

Inspiration doesn't even get you half way. 

In fact, if you're not careful, inspiration can be as quick of a dream killer as anything else in this world. Because it abandons you. Because it never takes you to the end. Because you are human and have bad days and get tired or sick or overwhelmed with life and there is frankly, just not enough energy left to feel inspired after everything else you have going on in your life. 

So. I have this friend. I love her dearly. She's one of my favorite humans ever. 

She wants to write a book. In fact, we've talked about it for years. She's told me her dreams and story ideas and hopes for how a step into publishing could change things for her family. 

In return, I've shared all of my publishing details with her. I've given her advice after advice after advice. I've read and carefully critiqued her work. I've helped her craft her skill and encouraged her to continue. 

She's a phenomenal writer. I've even offered to co-write something with her. 

But she never finishes anything she starts. She gives up as soon as life gets in the way or her week is a little too busy or she's just not in the mood. 

Hear me when I say, you will NEVER be in the mood to reach your goals. Never. 

No matter what they are. 

Unless maybe your big goals are to eat chocolate and binge Netflix every night. Like mine have been recently. Because I promise you those ones are pretty easily attainable. 

But as long as you're not seven months pregnant, reaching your dreams is going to take hard work. 

And when you've hit the limit of your hard work and what you can stand and put up with and force out of your mind/body/spirit, you'll have to work even harder. 

That's the thing with wanting to do great things, they take a massive amount of hard work. This is how your soul is refined. This is the fire you walk through until you are completely unrecognizable and all that is left of you is a seedling of a new you... a better you... a you that has what it takes to do what it takes

The truth about inspiration is that it's easy. It takes no work. It's not hard to feel inspired. It's not hard to come up with ideas or plans or goals. 

My mind is always spinning. It never turns off. Not even at night when I'm sleeping. So in this constant tornado of thoughts, one of my pass times is to think up advertising slogans for products I use. In another life, I think I would make a pretty great marketer. (If only I could figure out how to do it in this life...) 

I have this great idea for Bush's Baked Beans for instance. In my family, in-laws and everything, we always mix a can of classic baked beans with a smaller can of the grillin' baked beans. We have our favorite flavor profiles that complement and taste amazing together. Plus it makes the regular baked beans so much richer and heartier. And since the grillin' beans are in a smaller can, you end up with the perfect amount of beans for our sizes of families. 

I think this is genius. Also, delicious. And I think Bush's should start advertising this by matching two flavors together for their costumers. The consumers will love this because it's honestly yummy. And it takes the guess work out of picking two random flavors and hoping they go together. And Bush's will start selling twice as many cans of beans. Plus, their grillin' beans are the more expensive ones. 

Now practically, what am I going to do with this information? Nothing. Bush's could care less about my ideas and I'm not a marketing expert so what do I really know? 

The point is, the inspiration part of that genius idea took me thirty seconds. 

Inspiration is easy. 

It's the follow through that takes work. 

I'm not going to coddle you and tell you that you just have to want something bad enough. In fact, throw away your dream boards and Pinterest inspirations and whatever else you're using to make yourself feel good about feeling inspired while nothing else gets accomplished. I get that you're busy. I get that you have a lot going on. 

We all do. 

I'm a full-time writer and the hardest thing about my schedule is finding time to write. How does that even make sense? 

The truth is, if you want something done, you have to go after it, full-force, with your foot slammed down on the gas pedal, hoping that you crash into success before you drive off a cliff. You have to give up the unnecessary things in your life, even if you love them. You have to ignore distractions and social media and everything that isn't pushing you toward your goal. 

You have to fight for it. And trust me when I say nobody, not a single other human on this earth, is going to fight for it for you. 

It's up to you. And you alone. 

When I first started writing, I woke up before my real job to get a few hundred words in. I gave up TV completely- and I had an extensive list of shows that I loved. I quit going to the distracting places on the internet that would suck up my time. And I said no to hanging out with friends or playdates or events so I could stay home and finish chapters and then books and then series. 

It wasn't easy. 

In fact, it was really really hard. And to be honest, it hasn't gotten easier. It's only gotten harder. It's really difficult to sell books in the current climate. It's even harder for me to find time to write them. 

But this is my dream. And I realize now that I wasn't the one that started the fire inside me. That was God. He gave me this gift. This career. This hope in a future I'm too scared to speak out loud. Those prayers I used to pray were silly in the wake of God and His infinite plan. 

But would it have mattered if I hadn't worked my tail off? He is the ultimate dream giver. But He is also the author of free will. 

We are very welcome to sabotage His plans for us. 

But we have just as much opportunity to see how great and wide and deep and massive His dream for us goes. 

We just have to do our part. And it takes a lot of freaking work. 

But we're strong enough, you guys. We're motivated enough. Use your inspiration for what it's there for- to kick start your journey. And the rest is up to you. 

Work hard. 

Try hard. 

Believe hard. 

Hope hard. 

And never, ever give up.


Phasellus facilisis convallis metus, ut imperdiet augue auctor nec. Duis at velit id augue lobortis porta. Sed varius, enim accumsan aliquam tincidunt, tortor urna vulputate quam, eget finibus urna est in augue.

No comments:

Post a Comment