My father’s success in business relied on a powerful ego and unrelenting faith in himself. As a business owner in a competitive market I imagine his obstacles mirrored my own. So as I find both ego and faith tested as I fight for my place amongst the myriad of new authors I wonder; what did he do to stiffen his resolve?
In my naval career I put faith in my shipmates often; it’s the only way a submarine (or any ship for that matter) can effectively function. As is the case with life in general, people can let you down; it’s not a travesty or anything, it’s just the nature of us all. In those instances being able to examine an external failure of faith helps assuage the agony if not the consequences. But what happens when the ineptitudes emerge from within?
A science fiction mind is in part a scientifically situated one and as such filled with questions about everything. So when those questions turn inward and ask, ‘Am I really a writer?’ and ‘What the hell am I doing?’ what does one do to keep hope and and energy enough in those self-defeating moments?
One great help for me has been my writer’s workshop friends. They’re as supportive as any band of solitary writers can be on a Saturday afternoon exchanging tips and critiques. Like a workout partner (not that I have one, but I’ve heard) these folks push me forward by sharing what they’ve written and by asking what I’m working on. I might not have written anything for days but it gets me thinking of what I was working on last and gets my yearning to see it through to the next stage.
Another source of solace came from a book recommended by friends; ‘Bird by Bird’. This book by Anne Lamott on writing, writers, and life shares one reasonably successful writer’s adventures in the land of Self-contempt on the shores of the Unknown Writer’s Blues Sea. She makes it very clear; we all suffer from a lapse of passion and a shaky moment where our dreams seem folly or the success of others call into question our ‘calling’. Her wonderful blend of neurosis and humor pulls me out of a pity party, makes me laugh, and kicks me in the writer’s block.
Writing this blog post has become my closure on a brief yet agonizing lull, a doldrums for the sailboat of my writer’s dreams. It’s time to break out the oars and start rowing until another gust fills my sails once more.