Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
Today is the day: a day I imagined would come, but that still seems impossible--
My 5 year publishing anniversary.
Before I get started on this somewhat strange publishing anniversary post, I would like to dedicate this post to:
My family and friends, who have been there to support me through every inch of this journey, and who have never stopped believing in me, even when I stopped believing in myself. And for my dear readers and fans, who lend your support and interest, and who bring smiles to my face with all of your excitement over my stories. I thank you so much for continuing to read, and for continuing to lend me your support and enthusiasm.
I couldn't have reached 5 years without the aid and support of everyone who has been by my side, from the beginning and before.
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It took me weeks to figure out what I wanted to write about for this post -- months, even.
Every anniversary, I try to write something to inspire other writers and published authors, who struggle with the same ups, downs, hardships and excitements that I do. Writing can be a lonely job, and it's always wonderful to get a helping hand or word from another author who has been where you are now -- or who is where you are going. But, as the date of my anniversary grew closer and closer, I honestly had no idea what I wanted to post.
Sitting here now, at my desk, wondering why on Earth I forgot to make tea before I sat down, and if anyone at all will read this post anyway, I'm still struggling with what to write...only I know that I want to talk about what has happened in my life lately, what has completely changed me.
We all have moments of epiphany, I believe. Sometimes they come at the oddest moments, too, when we think that we are doing alright, and we don't need an epiphany at all--
Or at least that was my case about a week and a half ago.
I can't say what exactly brought the epiphany on. I started listening to the soundtrack for the musical Finding Neverland (I am, after all, a gigantic Peter Pan fan). I begun writing a scene of what I like to call my Monster Story (because it's so, so long...sigh). I went to a new restaurant with family. I went to a book fair, and listened in on a panel, with NYT Bestseller Jason Mott speaking about writing, which was a fantastic experience.
Somewhere along the line, the epiphany came, and I realized -- I have become cynical.
Cynical isn't a word I use often, just because I never really think about it, although it has plenty of room for application in the world. But it's the only word I can think of to accurately describe how I was acting and feeling up until recently--
I realized, by whatever means, that I've become cynical in my life these past few years -- partially because of getting older, partially because of trying to "fit into" the market and the business world, and partially because I simply allowed it to happen. It's become most apparent when I think about writing or publishing, and I realized, after this epiphany, that most of the time when I talk about either topic, my conversation is laced with: "it's hard", "it's difficult to gain interest", "don't expect (insert hope/dream here) to happen", and other negative words, covered over by "realism" that said this is simply how the business is, how life is. I had come to sound whiny and full of anger and bitterness. I realized, in whatever moment, that I had come to think of my work as a bane...especially the publishing aspect.
Now, it's not easy for me to admit it, and it sounds horrible and unprofessional because it is. But I want to be honest: somewhere along the line, I hadn't come to hate my job, but I had become very frustrated and cynical towards it, and all without realizing it.
My epiphany was a good, old-fashioned slap in the face that seriously made me take into account how I was feeling, thinking, and how I viewed my attitude -- and I discovered, not surprisingly, that I didn't like my attitude or what I had been unconsciously touting to others -- that my hopes and dreams would never come to be, and that theirs wouldn't, either. It made my soul ache to think that I had become so cynical.
The question was: what should I do about it?
I believe that we all have a purpose here in life, that God put us here for a reason, and that if we want to pursue our purpose, we are always going to get a lot of opposition -- and cynicism is possibly one of the worst oppositions we can come across, because it doesn't look like defeat when you first stare it in the face. Plenty of people don't like to talk about hopes and dreams, because those are things for children or people who like to ignore reality, but there's a reason that your hopes and dreams were so important to you once, if they aren't anymore.
As we get older, the "adult" thing to do is to be practical and realistic, and this is where cynicism can come in. Now I'm not saying that we shouldn't be practical or realistic at all, because we need those things, too, but if we become so practical and realistic that "practical" and "realistic" cease to mean what they should mean, then we've trudged into the arena of cynicism instead.
"Realism" in its false form tells us that we shouldn't dream, that we shouldn't hope, and we shouldn't reach for our goals, because it isn't "practical" to do, or our aspirations aren't likely to become reality...and this is cynicism, and it's a lie. If we don't reach for dreams and goals, then how are we supposed to make anything happen in the world -- and therefore have any impact on it? I don't know about you, but I'm really tired of living a life that tells me I can't do things because they're "impractical" or they aren't "realistic" -- that tells me having dreams is stupid, and I should get my head out of the clouds. It's cutting off your feet, and then wanting to run. You defeat yourself ahead of time, before you have a chance to even try.
History is full of people who did what was "impractical" and "unrealistic", and attained their goals, dreams and beyond by doing it -- and in turn inspired others, and made impacts on lives. Some of my favorites are: Walt Disney, Jim Henson, Madeline L'Engle, Steve Jobs, J.M. Barrie.
Isn't that what you want in the end, to at least see someone else smile, or take up their own bat, and go for their own dream?
When did "it's not likely to happen, so I'll just stick with what is likely and safe" become acceptable?
Making dreams reality is not easy -- it's hard work, and that is something you can never subtract from the equation. The fulfillment of any dream requires for you to work hard -- and often longer and harder than anyone else, for years and years before you see your dream fulfilled. But hard work teaches us new things, and prepares us for what lies ahead, in the center of our dream's fulfillment. If we don't work and learn, then we won't be prepared for the fulfillment of our dream when the time comes.
Walt Disney said "All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them", and I don't think that's merely a good quote. If you want to reach your goal, whatever it is, you have to have the courage to push past cynicism, and work for it.
I can't say what it was that made me see my cynicism for what it was, but I'm glad that I can see past it now. When I first started writing and publishing, I had big dreams, and somewhere along the line, I allowed them to fizzle out. I lost something, but I want to fight to get my aspirations back -- and I want to work to see them become a reality. It's the person who keeps working, and keeps believing, even when they're disappointed and feel like they'll never succeed, that ultimately makes their dreams a reality. I feel like, now that I've released my cynicism, I can have my dreams back.
I'm going to keep moving towards my goals -- this time, with the belief that I can make them a reality, so long as I keep working and striving. What about you?
If anyone is interested in the music to Finding Neverland, check it out. Here's my favorite number:
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