Driving in Reverse


Who would’ve guessed it, the source of wisdom is not always where one expects to find it. There was a lesson to be learned in the courtesy mobility cart at work. You know the ones. They help shoppers with disabilities navigate the floors and aisles of a large store. Well, the one in my store goes faster in reverse than it does going forward. And always before that seemed odd to me. You’d think threes far more danger of running into someone going backwards. But who am I to question the design, right?

Then this morning I read a tweet from someone who expressed a piece of the truth. It said that sometimes you have to go backwards so you can get ahead. I made the connection. Perhaps it’s because I had just awakened from the sort of dream state that engenders self-enlightenment. I don’t know. But I have always believed that dreams send me messages. Whether I want to pay attention or not, listen or ignore, is left to me.

There’s a recurring character in my books. You read a lot about him because he’s my alter ego. He’s that guy I have, at times, always wished I could have been and yet, at other times I’ve been glad I didn’t turn out like him. Writers have characters like that. They allow us to explore possibilities on our journey to expose the truths within us. Well, mine is named Brent.

His last name is Woods, a name chosen for good reason. I was writing about a forest in a fantasy tale that was  tentatively called Dammerwald at that time. It eventually became The Wolfcat Chronicles. Since I was looking for an alter ego kind of name it seemed appropriate because a woods when I was growing up was the wooded area behind my house and I experienced a lot of fantastic adventures there from which some of my writing draws.

Anyway, that’s where Brent’s connection to The Wolfcat Chronicles lies and that’s how everything else began.

In one of the books I’ve written about Brent he says something that startled me. That happens for a writer pretty much anytime a kernel of the truth, seemingly by accident, emerges of it own volition. It’s like you type by sense of smell, instinct or whatever. And what you get is an unintended revelation. Brent said to me, and the other character to whom he happened to be conversing, “If you want to know the truth; here it is. Life is not about me, it’s about you. If you want to be successful, that’s all you need to know.”

When a character in a story tells you, as a writer or a reader, something like that, if you are paying attention you experience a wow moment. That’s when the tickles happen internally and those trigger the hackles, which on people are the tiny hairs on the backs of our necks. Those hairs raise in autonomic response to experiencing a piece of the truth. That’s how you know something is good.

Brent goes on at some length to explain to the other character, Lana, what he means. After making a statement like that usually a character has to explain it just in case the reader glossed over the remark and didn’t fully experience or benefit from the wow effect. But in this case, the wow happened to fit exactly into 140 characters. So it has been Twitter-approved as well. So, it must be the truth, right?

What Brent explained to Lana is the difference between true success and false success. True success is measured in terms well-beyond wealth or power. It comes from appraising the benefit others derive from knowing you and the influence you have upon them. A person who is truly successful can’t exactly measure his or her success because, by it nature, it is something others have to determine.

False success is the anthesis, of course. It is all about me and not about you. It is selfish and self-destructive. For a brief period everything seems to work well. Fame, wealth, power come because of self-focused determination that leads to apparent success. But the acquisition of the trappings of success corrupts the individual who does not possess the correct mental state for handling the benefits. And so, the trappings become a trap, a snare from which the pseudo-successful cannot escape, tethered to the corruption of the world around him or her and which he or she cannot be extricated. The trap destroys the the falsely successful.

That is why people who do not understand the truth crash and burn, their success flames out and proves fleeting. Unless the formerly false successful arrive at the enlightened moment, understanding that what made him or her successful previously were the people around him or her, failure continues.

You see, in the book about Brent and Lana, Brent is a writer. I know it’s a stretch of the imagination for a writer, me, to have an alter ego who is a writer. But it happens Brent and I are and have always been pretty close. So, whatever. Anyway, Lana is hired to edit one of Brent’s books about wolfcats and in the course of reading the story and living in his house, which is haunted mansion, she learns that Brent, who is – as a writer – at least partially nuts by anyone else’s standards, knows a lot of secrets about how the world works. She presses him. She believes in him and his art and wants to make him successful. But Brent explains to her that the real story he has to tell others is about her and not him.

Lana happens to be the alter ego of a character in Brent’s story. She’s his muse, if you will. She is the real world incarnation of a wolfcat. His story, then, was only ever for her benefit. Finding meaning from the strange life she has endured he helps her pull all the pieces together and learn about her destiny.

It all goes back to the truth, or at least the part of it, that seems antithetical at first. Going forward sometimes requires going backwards – or having that sort of outlook on life. One may find the truth from exposing the lies. That’s one of the examples Brent gives in the course telling the story. He shows Lana a path to the truth but allows that discovery to become a personal event, because that is the only way it will last. He cannot tell anyone the truth because each person needs to discover is or her relationship with the world. How it happens comes in many ways but most often it is through the expression of art in its many and various forms.

Brent, as an artistic sort, gravitates toward other artists. From my experience that is how it happens in life. Artists feed one another’s creative souls. Why wouldn’t we enjoy one another’s company? Artists tend to know other artists and understand the art if not the person. We naturally feel comfortable connecting with the creative aspect of the nature surrounding us. When Brent tells Lana the truth about success he hopes to explain why he is not concerned with becoming famous as a by product of producing his art. He says that success is not a goal or a destination but instead a process that is measured in another’s terms.

#success #failure #TheWolfcatChronicles #BrentWoods #truth #enlightenment #dreams #messages


Success And Failure In Writing


Over the course of my working life I’ve acquired a pretty thick skin with regard to being rejected. That’s a good thing to acquire if you’re going to write – a thick skin. And you need to get used to being rejected. It happens a lot. As anyone who has worked in sales learns not to take ‘no’ personally, you have to understand that ‘no’ often means ‘not yet’. Some might state that as ‘no’ doesn’t really mean ‘no’ as they refuse to ever take it for an answer. It’s part of the mindset of countering rejection. Like a persistent, pestering five-year-old they refuse to give up on their heart’s desire. Like a hungry bulldog on a piece of raw meat they…well, you get the idea.

I was never all that excessive as a salesperson and that is probably why I was only moderately successful at it.

I had no trouble selling something I believed in or liked, though. Those things usually sell themselves. Just explain the features and benefits but have a sales ticket handy to close the deal. Things like that, the easy sells, don’t pay top commissions because less effort is required. Selling some unnecessary something to someone who doesn’t want it is what pays the most. And something someone doesn’t want pretty much defines that book you just wrote, especially if you’re an obscure first timer.

I know you don’t want to accept that, but it is the truth. And despite knowing that greed is one of the seven deadly sins, some of us are greedy. So you want to become rich and famous as a best seller author. Otherwise, why go through the agonizing experience of spending years writing a book and another year or two getting it published just to have no one want to buy it? We’re taught from an early age that this is a material world and one’s success or failure is often measured in terms of possessions and accumulated wealth. We sell our souls, at least figuratively, to the idea that more is always better when it comes to having ‘things’. The weight of those things and maintaining status becomes our fervent obsession. But is that really why you wrote that book? I mean, be realistic. There much more immediately lucrative endeavors and your time should have been spent pursuing those if, in fact, your overall objective was to become a rich and famous best selling author.

Not everyone makes it. You know that. We all play the game to some extent but usually we give up somewhere short of becoming rich and famous because we realize that we aren’t all that good at playing. A few of us gain some perspective and enlightenment from observing others and witnessing the results. It is almost a bromide that it is better to be unhappy and rich than it is to be unhappy and poor, so we opt out of the system at a point where we find a way of living comfortably between the two. But we are unjust as unhappy as we ever were because whether we are writing or not determined if we, as writers, are happy.

After years of playing the game, succeeding and failing like everyone else who doesn’t write, accumulating stuff that made it difficult to choose leaving high-paying, bad jobs with abusive working conditions, I gave up nearly everything I have in order to pursue writing. In retrospect I should have done it long before. I couldn’t have ended up any worse off. Perhaps it was wrong to do what I did for so many years, opting to be practical instead of pursuing my dreams. But the past couple of years I have learned how very little a human being truly needs in order to survive.

Yeah, I’m not rich. I don’t really need to be rich nor do I want to be. I’m pretty content having just enough. In the rankings of the rat race I’m poor. But as I refuse to participate in that competition what difference does it make. I’m not out to impress anyone with a flashy car, a big house, expensive clothes, watches and gadgets. Everything I have, except for my bicycle, will fit in the truck of a car. Imagine that! I have little stress in my life other than what I determine is necessary. I have goals that I set for myself but they are attainable and I am responsible to very few others. I have a couple of part time jobs to help cover expenses. Otherwise, what I do is write. That’s important knowledge and pretty radical in this material world, right?

One Over X 1One Over X 2

Thirteen years ago when my first book was published I wanted it to be best seller. I promoted it amongst my friends, coworkers, relatives, people I had known in the past, neighbors and even total strangers. I personally handed it to book critics who didn’t want to read it just because it wasn’t validated by some major publisher’s seal of approval. Although I’d signed on with a small publisher that won’t good enough. They equated that with using a vanity press even though I had not paid to be published.

I drove miles from where I lived to pitch my novel at bookstores. I donated copies ot local libraries. I attended fairs and conferences to pitch my wares. I sold a few copies. Moreover I learned something very valuable from the experience. Other than me and maybe my immediate family, no one cared about the book I’d just published. It was immaterial that I’d spend years writing it, that I’d spent countless hours revising, editing, and everything else involved in just getting it to a publisher. It was inconsecquential that I’d spent another two years working the book through the production process just to finally hold a copy of it in my hands. I signed a few autographs – on the off chance I ever became famous – and some people read it and gave me their feedback. The book was a first in more ways than one. It was enlightening to learn that hardest part of publishing a book was actually getting anyone to buy it.

As crazy as it may sound, part of the realization in my situation back then was that the true objective of a writer is to be read. If people decide to purchase a book the writer might earn at living at it. But truly, that is not the objective or writing. I also understood that success for a writer is measured in how many strangers read his or her book and like it, not how many friends, family and acquaintances feel obligated to buy it just because of a level of familiarity.

Colonial AuthorityThe Resurrection

So, as much or as little as I have promoted my books over the years, posting things in social media of late, and having scores of people I have known over the years congratulate me on my achievements, I have not sold all that many books to people from my past. That’s fine with me because I completely understand the process now. It’s just weird, isn’t it, having someone you knew when you both had pimples tell you that he or she has written a book. If you happen to read the book do you hear the squeaky voice of that kid you grew up with – that nerdy dude who used to sit off to himself or that shy girl who never spoke much. Why would anyone want to read a book he or she wrote?

My youngest daughter best expressed the sensation of reading one of my books. “It’s kinda creepy hearing your voice in my head as I read.” Okay, enough said. I get it.

When I write, what I compose is intended to be enjoyed, not the source of creepiness. Someone who feels forced to read it out of some obligation borne of friendship or shared genetics probably shouldn’t buy the book. Writers want to make happy readers not tormented souls. When I write I imagine it is for a person I haven’t yet met because I no longer expect anyone I know to read my books. For those of you who know me personally, if you ever read one of my books, I think you may be surprised at what you’ll find. Anyone who knew me way back when I was that weird kid was largely ignored actually had no idea I could string a few words together into something half-way coherent. Now there’s a book or, actually, several. Who would have thought it possible, right?

For all writers whether published or yet aspiring, I offer some advice suitable for having carved into something you could hang above the workspace where you write:

1) Most people you know won’t read your book.
2) Most people you don’t know won’t read your book.
3) Most people won’t care about your book whether or not they know you.
4) Until your book hits the New York Times Best Seller List, most people won’t know or care that you write.
5) After you make it as a writer, some people who buy your book won’t actually bother reading it.
6) But, because you don’t write for any of those people who won’t read your book, why should you care?


#Writing #ElgonWilliams #FromTheInside #ToTheCloser #OneOverX #ColonialAuthority #TheResurrection #TheAttributes #FriedWindows #Success #Failure #Publishing