Authors, Entrepreneurs, and other Creative Individuals Pursuing Their Dreams
Some time ago, I wrote a blog titled: "Who Is In Your Mirror?"
Today, I want to reprint it here. But first, I want to make the following observations.
For many authors, especially first-time authors, the hope—the dream is that their first novel or book will set the world on fire; trike the motherlode; shoot the moon—all the analogies one can make regarding ultimate success. It just does not happen that way. To quote an oft-spoke phrase: "Overnight success often takes a long time."
I was very fortunate. In 1995, my first novel, "I Never Played Catch With My Father," had five of New York's top publishers set to bid on publishing rights: Simon & Schuster, two divisions of Random House, Alfred Knopf, and St. Martin's Press. I recall meeting with my agent (then, and who I will not here name), in her Brentwood, California home, on the Sunday preceding the Monday auction.
Ms. B.F., my agent, was excited and very upbeat about the upcoming momentous event. "This almost never happens," she said, as she proceeded to talk about her plans to remodel her home with part of her 15%. I had no immediate plans, except to have lunch after our meeting. She projected a top figure of 1 to 1.2 million dollars for a two-book deal. Of course, that seemed a lot of money to this humble Texas native from a family of eight siblings, I made the point I was just as concerned about the eventual publisher's commitment to promotion dollars.
While, I have amore lengthy piece about this, I will abbreviate it here.
B.F. advised me that if I did not hear from he before 6 p.m. Pacific time, all had gone well, andthe only question would be the final numbers. 6 p.m. came and went. For the first time, I permitted myself to at least think of buying a new computer, and perhaps a new guitar and a new Fender amp I had been craving.
Then, the call from B.F. From her hello, I knew the Fender would have to wait. "The auction fell through," she intoned in an unfamiliar baritone. I waited—I waited for a detailed explanation. There was silence. "What happened," I asked, in a measured tone. There was silence, followed by: "I'm not really sure." Realizing further questions were futile, I ended the conversation.
The next day, I called New York, and spoke to—after polite insistence—to Simon & Schuster's then Sr. Vice President, Bob Mecoy. He was reluctant to speak directly to me but relented. He said the following:
"Mr. Cartwright, I really should not be speaking to you; you have an agent. But I think you at least deserve to know that the problem was...was your agent."
It was then I finally felt the disappointment, anger, and rage I had constrained. Mr. Mecoy would not say more. The conversation ended. I called B.F. and demanded to know the truth. I suspected she had made unreasonable and greedy demands, and perhaps turned down substantial numbers just short of her expected 1 to 1.2 million dollars. I did not tell her of my conversation with S&S. She was vague, unapologetic, and terse. I fired her on the spot. She then, adding gasoline to fire, demanded I reimburse her for printing and mailing costs. I hung up.
I gave myself 48 hours to be pissed off and homicidal. I took a long drive to San Francisco, then later returned to writing, querying, and seeking new representation. To be honest, there was almost another 'Murder in Brentwood.'
What Next? I am fortunate to be one who looks at what is, what can be, and determine what I can and must do to effect the desired outcome. I try to not let some selff-imposed timetables get in the way, and do not engage in self-flagellation. Nothing is guaranteed except failure, if one does nothing.
And as always, in addition to crediting my Creator, I credit the fact I was born at the right address, to my late, sainted mother and father. Of course, the synergy of one's environment, or perhaps in spite of that environment, plus the random association of cells and chromosomes that help determine our start at birth, all play a significant part.
I have continued to write, and have enjoyed writing success; maintained a firm view of my purpose—after realizing I would not die as the engineer I once was. I am not terminally discouraged by setbacks, whether caused by me, others, or unforeseen circumstances. I would write even if there were no readers. I am driven to create; to invent; to think, and to live. If you dig down deeply, these attributes are likely within you.
We are a short time here, and a long time gone.
Courage required: So, if you set about to write a book, failed to achieve great success, then quit, with no plans or thought of continuing to write, then you are likely not a writer. Continue to seek your purpose. If you have stopped promoting your one book, despite the fact a book is forever; and have books stored in the corner of your garage, then you need to look in that mirror I speak about. Ask yourself some hard questions, and honestly answer them.
Okay, so this was a long preamble to my earlier blog that follows. I hope you find some benefit, and will continue to be a part of iFOGO Village, even as we change our structure to a "Member-Supported" network. Please. read on:
Reprint From earlier Blog:
When was your last conversation with your mirror?
In almost any pursuit,
we proceed with a set of expectations. Often, those expectations are realistic, even more often, they are not. Yet, this is understandable and not meant to be critical. Key questions we authors must gaze into our mirror and ask ourselves are:
Of course, there are many other important questions I have left out, but let's look at my brief list, and recognize one basic thing: writing requires unadulterated dedication, persistence, and very thick skin.
If one is easily discouraged, writing is not the profession to pursue. Writing a book is only the beginning. You already know this to be true. Unabashed marketing and promotion is essential.
It is also essential that authors network, network, network, not only with fellow-authors, but with media, and industry-types at all levels.
Question: When was the last time you reached out to offer your thoughts, ask questions, seek advice, emulate another's success, offer congratulations or a constructive critique? It is unfair to expect to receive benefit but not to reach out to offer same.
We all need encouragement, and therefore offering sincere encouragement is the currency that enriches us all.
So, I encourage you to become a serial giver, a consistent congratulator, an avid advisor, and a master motivator. I work at these things everyday, as do many of you. I congratulate you, if you may be so described. If you cannot be, I encourage you to make the effort, for your own benefit and success.
These are difficult times for so many. If writing is your passion, abandoning it is not an option. Remember, a book is forever; it will always exist. Unless you only create calendars, your writing is never truly out-of-date. If you have written your first or fiftieth book, your next book should have already been underway. If a law is made making writing a capital offense, real writers will be found in prison—writing, all the way to the gallows. You get the point.
Keep writing, keep creating, keep living!
Thanks for reading,