Said my neighbour, two weeks ago, as we both took out our bins. “Should I be pruning mine too?” He asked with the openness of an eager apprentice. He’s a long-time house husband. However, he is not quite so happy with his garden. Although respectable, he says it is lacking in comparison with other gardens he admires.
“No, don’t prune your roses,” I said. “It is still summer. It’s hot. It’s the wrong time of year but you understand meI garden by instinct.” I was on a big gardening cleanup that followed on from a large, post-Christmas, home clean-up. My current garden is small but for several years I had a big garden. As my kids are spread out in age, I learned to garden quickly and efficiently because of the time constraints of having young children. What also worked was to maintain planting things. Whatever climbed; great. Whatever died; take no notice. Stay true to what your personal preferences are in gardens but do not be rough and rigid about what the garden should look like. Go with the flow; not just of the seasons but also of how a garden will take on a life force of its own.
As the neighbour and I parted company, I added by way of explanation about my untimely and intense mass pruning,”I need all the plants to get a second life in Autumn.” He was going to re-ask if he should do the same thing but then realised we were on a circular route. He did remember with humour how one of our older Greek neighbours would get his chainsaw out to prune the roses and could spend five minutes wildly hacking off all the branches. Job done. I asked about his resulting roses.
“Beautiful,” said my neighbor. “He had bloody beautiful roses” He then shrugged and decided to proceed with the traditional gardening scheduling rather than my irregular one. We both knew he’d be watching my backyard to decide upon the success or failure of the unconventional method.
To me, success in composing is similar to success in gardening.
Say it and with good intent.
Take only momentary notice of what dies. Trust your own fate.
Write instinctively, disregarding what others believe or do. Your instincts may be quite different to other people’s.
Don’t be egotistical. Don’t search for fame. Share your work just because you want to share. Don’t say,”I’m not interested in fame. I share from the goodness of my heart!” Show by your consistent actions that you are considering sharing for the benefit of others’ well-being. Frankly, all egos are interested in fame so don’t be too hasty in declaring your innocence of it, unless you’re. And as they say, people who know, do not say. People who don’t understand, say.
Do the best you can. Sometimes your best will be better than other times. Do your best, one day at a time. That’s good enough.
The first person your writing should be valuable to is you. After looking at something you’ve created, ask yourself if you believe it’s good. If you don’t think it’s great then make something else which corresponds to your highest sense of what you believe you are capable of producing at this stage. Don’t compare yourself to author, Paulo Coelho, who has the highest following of Facebook authors with a thirty-million-strong audience. Give what you are authentically capable of giving. Do not pester your friends on social websites for support. They may support you, out of shame, but pity does not a writer make. If you are asking for assistance from your friends (no matter how you phrase it) then you’re not in a position to be giving them anything. If all you honestly have to give, at this stage, is valued by only two followers then accept that, be grateful, and develop yourself at any and every way you can imagine, with humility.
Love your writing as you would your backyard. So relax and enjoy the beauty and life that’s in it today, right where it’s at. You do not know who else can get value from something you’ve said or done. Frequently, many more people than you realise are blessed by something you do. It spreads out like a ripple in a pond. We only get told a small fraction of this effect we have on other folks. When we get the occasional compliment, we can take it as a reminder that there are people out there benefiting from something we have invested ourselves in.
Be careful of your peers. No offence to writing groups but that’s the last place I’d like to go for help with my writing achievement. Like most of peer groups, the bottom line is that they are fine so long as you are no threat. If you are intending to succeed in your chosen career, I would be very careful about spending too much time with peers who are struggling. Writers, like most groups of artistic people, put tremendous effort and terrific love in their work for, generally, very little in return. The ego, however sweetly it dresses itself, cannot help but believe that one person’s success is just another chance taken away from them in a seemingly intensely competitive market.
They are surely doing a far better job than I could in a challenging business but I have several concerns. Many people who work in publishing are there because they would love to be successful authors themselves but they could not make it work. This tells me that while they are capable of seeing what has been successful in the past, they usually can’t easily see what could be prosperous in the future. If they could, many of them would be writing it themselves. Try with the publishing industry, clearly, because it may be for you. However, if you’ve tried and got nowhere (which is going to be the case for the vast majority of authors ) then disregard that course and form your own. With today’s technology, there’s absolutely no reason not to and every reason to. The world is accessible as never before and it’ll only become more so at a rapid speed. Anyway, in such a struggling sector as publishing in a fast-changing world of communication, do you even want to be involved with conventional publishing? Did you know that for every ten books publishers create; seven is going to be a financial burden, two will break even, and you will hopefully make enough of a profit to encourage all the others. You certainly don’t want to be the writer losing money for your publisher or even the one breaking . But do you want to be the one supporting everyone else? Maybe, maybe not. The world is changing, We can too.