Although I’m not averse to reading positive stories, I’ve definitely got the typical British stoicism running through my veins: don’t complain, make the best of things and keep a stiff upper lip when motivating myself.
The problem with being long-suffering is that it turns into self-indulgent masochism. Keeping my nose to the grindstone might be virtuous, but with my sense of smell destroyed, I can longer appreciate how much my situation stinks! We all need immense amounts of patience to be writers but as George Jackson cautioned:
Patience has its limits. Take it too far and it’s cowardice.
I’m becoming increasingly impatient with the time it takes to interest literary agents in representing me to secure a traditional publishing contract, so am planning a return to self-publishing. To do so effectively means entering the hoopla of blogging, tweeting and posting on social media, which cuts into writing time.
Life is too much “Look at me…me, me, me” these days, with people getting momentary amusement from often meaningless twaddle. In selling myself as an author and marketing my books as commercial products, I hope to pen online content that entices readers prepared to devote time to my stories. I’m unsure how to do so.
I’ve been discussing various aspects of commerce with my best friend, who lives on the South Island of New Zealand. She runs a jewellery importation business, sourcing stock from Turkey and India, selling rings, bracelets and necklaces directly to customers at markets and through online ads. Trade is up and down, sometimes she does well, other times it’s a lot of effort for little profit.
Like me, she’s very determined/stubborn/tenacious, but, unlike me, she believes in a higher power. Not necessarily an all-powerful god, more tapping into a universal force that radiates benevolence when contacted. She does so through intention statements, writing down what it is she wants to achieve. She recently suggested that I do the same for my writing career.
My NZ friend sent me a book that she swears by. Although I’ve read a lot of self-help books, I opened the package with some trepidation.
My friend’s go-to book is called I’m Rich Beyond My Wildest Dreams: “I am. I am. I am. How To Get Everything You Want In Life. No kidding, that’s the title. Written by father and daughter team Thomas L. Pauley and Penelope J. Pauley, it describes a system to get exactly what you need from life.
There’s lots of talk of God, which would normally be a turn-off for me, but my friend advised me to not be put off by that (she’s not religious either), but to think instead of some other beloved deity—like my long-dead cat Pushkin—who ruled my life for a decade. I’ve read half of it so far. wincing a bit, while also thinking “That might work.” It’s well-written, drawing the reader in with lots of teases and hints and “aw shucks” humbleness to make it sound like they don’t know it all.
I’ll let you know what I think of it when I finish. To be honest, I can do with all of the positivity I can get. It’s hard to self-motivate, to carry on believing in me as an author and my books as commercial stories, when there’s no acceptance or real feedback from literary agents. Writing books that aren’t read reminds me of that conundrum about how if a tree falls in a forest, and there’s no one to hear it fall, does it make a noise? Do my books really exist without readers?
As an experiment, I’ve tried writing out a list of intention statements, just five of them in a document on my desktop. I consult it from time to time—it’s almost like seeing a positive life coach version of me!
An article in today’s Guardian notes that in these troubled times, there’s been a rise in the sale of self-help books.
Have you been helped my self-help books?