Holy shit, where is our ranty, bitchy, sarcastic Renee and who is this nauseating woman who’s taken her place talking about “you can do it” and uplifting crap like that?
Fear not, the Renee you’ve become accustomed to is still here. She’s just thinking out loud…again. Yes, this will be somewhat motivational and positive (at least that’s the goal), but please do stick around anyway, because I still have profanity and margaritas.
Also, there will be rants to come. I promise. Actually, I’d intended to rant today, but then this song came on the radio when I was at my parents’ house this morning to let their dog out and “sit” with her for a minute. My mom’s a little neurotic, and she worried poor little Lucy will get lonely if someone isn’t there every few hours to talk to her and shit. Anyway, this morning (because of recent personal events) the song made me cry. Usually though, this song makes me smile. Why? Allow me a bit of rambling.
Some of you may not have the time to listen to the song, or you might be at work and can’t blast it. So here’s the lyrics:
Live Like You Were Dying
He said I was in my early forties,
With a lot of life before me,
And a moment came that stopped me on a dime.
I spent most of the next days,
Looking at the x-rays,
And talking about the options, and talking about sweet time.
I asked him when it sank in,
That this might really be the real end,
How’s it hit you when you get that kind of news?
Man what’d you do?
(Chorus) And he said: I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying,
And he said some day, I hope you get the chance,
To live like you were dying.
He said: I was finally the husband,
That most the time I wasn’t,
And I became a friend a friend would like to have.
And all of a sudden going fishing,
Wasn’t such an imposition
And I went three times that year I lost my Dad.
Well, I finally read the good Book,
And I took a good long hard look,
At what I’d do if I could do it all again,
Like tomorrow was a gift,
And you got eternity,
To think about what you’d do with it.
And what did you do with it?
And what can I do with it?
And what would I do with it?
That last bit, “Like tomorrow was a gift and you got eternity to think about what you’d do with it…” is the way I’ve viewed things for the past ten years or so. Sure, sometimes it’s easy to fall into the “I wish” and “It’s not fair” mindset, and I do that more often than I should, but most of the time, I look at life in terms of what if once it’s all over, someone asks me “What did you do with it?” How would I answer that question?
How would you answer that question?
What does this have to do with writing? Well, everything really. This is a tough industry. I’ve said so many times, and I’ve bitched and moaned and cried about how hard it is to achieve what I want. But, at the end of the day, I don’t believe that there is any possibility that I’ll fail, because I’ve already succeeded.
I’ve thought about this a lot. When you work in manic mode like I do, you have some pretty intense emotions from time to time, and sometimes I find myself in that big cozy pit of despair thinking I’ve been a fool, and all that other self-pitying nonsense that we like to wallow in occasionally. I begin thinking about what I’ve done and what good it’s brought me, and then I think about this song, and I’m out of that pit and feeling quite pleased with myself. Of course, I should explain.
I’ve had some interesting feedback on OFW. Most of it has been good, but I’ve also had a few “friends” tell me it’s a failure waiting to happen. Sometimes it’s tempting to believe that when I’m dealing with glitches and whatnot, which can I just say, suck ass big time. Anyone wanting to start a website, be warned: Technology is a bastard. It hates you and it will make you as miserable as it can.
Anyway, I was talking about OFW. I actually had a couple of rather hateful emails and private messages on Goodreads because we took our group there and moved it to the site. I’ve been told that it will never take off, it will never pay, and I’m a fool for busting my ass for nothing. One person told me I was an arrogant bitch. Another asked what did I think I had to offer writers that more experienced (and established) authors could not? A few told me I’d ruin my chances of publishing. Hmm. Okay. No, it doesn’t pay. It costs. It costs time, energy, money, and sometimes brain cells and I’m pretty sure a part of my soul is forever lost. It’s been largely thankless, and it is monstrous, and some days, I’d like to throw in the towel and never hear the words “On Fiction Writing” ever again.
But I love it.
It’s something that, ten years ago, hell even just five years ago, I’d never have considered. I too would have said, “Who the fuck am I to run a website for writers? I haven’t published shit, so what gives me the right to give my opinion?” Today I say, “Who the fuck are you to say I can’t? Thanks for your opinion, you giant jealous douche. I’ll file it where it belongs. At least I tried to take what I wanted out of life.” If it doesn’t take off, if we decide to shut the whole works down; it’s still not a failure. The minute we had one member, I succeeded in what I wanted to do. The rest is just a bonus. I love writing the articles, I love debating with other authors, I even love begging for interviews (sort of), and I love it when I get feedback like this. This single blog post is enough for me to feel as though I’ve succeeded, no matter what happens after this point.
I have like ten manuscripts that are finished. Six or seven of those are polished and (in my opinion) publishable. I have far more half-written manuscripts than I should. Someone once kindly pointed out that if they weren’t published, then they were a waste of time. To them I say, “And fuck you too, asshat.” Nothing is a waste of time if you love doing it. I loved every second of that writing. If I don’t find an agent, or I never publish traditionally as I want to do (not as I have to do, but as I choose to do at this point), I’m going to be pissed, and I won’t pretend that the thought doesn’t bother me. I’m sure there are many ranty blog posts in my future, mostly because I enjoy ranting. But I will not see it as failure. I’ve succeeded already. I’ve written books, I’ve written articles, and I’ve been paid for my writing. Actually, writing is my full time job now. It pays the bills (most of the time) and “writer” is what the government calls my job position. It’s not exactly what I wanted, but it’s success nonetheless.
I used to be a cautious person. I was careful what I said and who I said it to. I was careful not to offend anyone, and I never went for anything that I thought there was the tiniest change I might fail at. I never took risks. I settled for what I thought I deserved, and not what I really wanted and needed. And I was miserable.
When I changed my thinking, and I took a “no holds barred” view on life, my confidence went up, and my misery went down. It’s simple really. You don’t have to be all crazy and jump out of a plane (who would jump from a perfectly good plane anyway?) or go ride some beast of death, but you do owe it to yourself to do what you know will make you happy; what makes you feel alive. Don’t be afraid of failure.
Failure is living life so cautiously that you never do anything.
Failure is never feeling (good or bad) emotions so intense you think you might die or explode.
Failure is wishing for good things, but never actively going after them.
Failure is never waking up long enough to make your dreams to come true.
Failure is not taking a chance.
Failure is not a four letter word. Fear is.
If someone asks you what you did with life, can you say you at least tried your best to live like you were dying? If the answer is yes, then failure is impossible.
Lesson over. I’ve saved the rant for another day. Stay tuned.