Lately I've been steeped in the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. I'm reading it, slowly and deliberately, one verse per night, and letting the wisdom sink in. I've read the Tao Te Ching many times before but it's never resonated with me like this. There's such a infinite wisdom in this book I can see how it's survived thousands of years. The message is so good, so poignant, so useful to humanity that it's stood the test of time. I've been doing my usual year-end reflection and have been thinking a lot about my writing, mainly the snail's pace in which my career has grown. Many times I've asked myself why I haven't achieved the level of success I've wished for. I've been working at my craft for more than two decades and each time I hit a wall and feel like giving up my psyche has always offered up a myriad of excuses:
You haven't met the right contact;
There's too much competition;
It's impossible to make a living at writing;
Facebook is severely limiting my outreach;
Blah, blah, blah, blah.
These excuses are falsehoods that, once I climb from the mire of self-pity, eventually allow me to justify continuing down a path that isn't working out. Yes, I receive great joy from my work, there's no denying that, but one thing the Tao Te Ching has taught me to do is step outside myself and look at things objectively. When I do this I see the truth, my work is just not good enough. Admitting this is an amazingly freeing and cleansing experience. If my writing was good enough my words would resonate with people to the point they would catch fire. I would be doing what I love for a living.
This very moment I'm taking full ownership of my life, both the successes and the failures. Like James Altucher has said many times before, there are no longer any gatekeepers. This is very important to realize because when you do you can't blame anyone but yourself. I'm totally responsible for my own happiness and success.
My second novel, Truth Is Stranger, will be done by June, a series of short stories called, Embrace The Wobble will be published shortly after that, and I'm actively seeking people interested in making my trilogy of novels into films.
Indentured Solitude, my latest short story, is the best fiction I've ever written. I know I can do this. I see that all of the struggles and life experiences I've been through have made my writing better. I'm going to continue to learn, continue to walk down my happy path, and continue to write.
A few other things the Tao has taught me is: 1. everything happens in its own time, when it's meant to; and 2. we must act but detach ourselves from results of those actions.
2016, like any year, will be filled with the usual ups and downs but this year I refuse to see myself through the lens of any falsehoods, any excuses will be hunted to the point of extinction. In the New Year, and every year thereafter, I'm going to work harder than ever before at my craft until my words absolutely catch f*cking fire. There’s no other way.
Until then, my head and heart will be completely in my work, I will try to see things as they are and not how I wish them to be, and my nose will be trained for that first sweet whiff of smoke.
Happy New Year all! Thank you all for the wonderful support and ideas. May 2016 bring you truth and may that truth lead you to the success you seek.
~Eric Vance Walton~