by Jeffrey J. Michaels
It is spring and, after a long cold lonely winter of starving in the attic gable apartment in Paris, many a young, creative human’s fancy turns to thoughts of growth and gaining a market share. These days, there are so many paths to promotion.
An astonishing variety of people, groups, contests, magazines, books, and conferences that will tell YOU the secrets to success and making BIG Money, that Greenback Dollar. Buy their product and you will see the vistas and sweet verdant valleys of success. All you need do is pay THEM a fee and you are guaranteed Bongo Bucks of the Great Googly Moolah. (Wait…did they actually guarantee that? Read the fine print, tadpole.)
Here is the one secret that so many books on the art of writing fail to mention:
There are more people making money on writers than there are writers making money on writing.
There, I have said it and now you know.
This is a hard lesson. One that will likely make new writers a bit uneasy. It is not something taught at writing schools. This is not to say that as an author you are doomed to a life of the pauper. It is only to point out that there is not an easy way to become the Prince. In fact, if you do achieve a measure of success (Agent, Publisher, Contract, New York Times Bestseller list) and you take all the money you make and divide it by the time you spent to gain said greenback dollars, you may find that you are actually earning less than minimum wage.
So why do it? Why write if there is little chance of monetary reward? There are other easier ways to make money. If you are a creative individual by nature, an Artist, you already know the answer in your heart. You might as well ask a seed why it germinates, why it opens and sprouts, why it creates a flower, plant, or tree against all the odds of shallow, barren soil, drought, being eaten by a bird, or failure to take root.
It does it because it is a seed.
That is what seeds do. They take the chance and sometimes they fail, but often they produce and succeed. Maybe not wildly, maybe they do not become a giant sequoia or abundant apple tree, but that is not what most seeds are for. Most create a plant that then creates a seed that looks much like the last one. This perpetuates the species and brings some small nourishment and enrichment of the air or soil where it dwells. Sometimes we, humanity, gain because the seed produces a pleasurable fruit or vegetable or herb. Sometimes there is a pretty flower to be smelled and enjoyed.
More often than not the seed falls where there is no human to enjoy the fruits. Is that seed then useless? No. The birds, the bees, the soil itself, all these things are part of a vast cycle of life and death, dormancy and vitality.
Seeds sprout. Writers write.
Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation. ~ Graham Greene
We tell stories to ourselves first, but maybe, if we fall on the correct type of soil and find enough sunlight and rainwater to nourish us, we create a pleasant story or nourishing parable that allows others to see their lives or the history of the human race in a different way.
Will our stories shake the world or reshape the path of civilization? Likely not, but we may create a line of writers who will. Our work may be light and temporary, a flower in the field, but the seeds we produce have meaning by their length of existence and their power of perpetuating ideas. And sometimes…great crops grow; vast fields come about from many seeds sprouting together. Millions are fed; millions enjoy the beauty of flowers. Life is better and we can continue facing the challenges of global society.
And so you write. Sometimes the reward is the act itself.
But sometimes you show your work and another human says, “This is great stuff!”
You feel that moment of personal growth, that instant where you sprout and break the soil into the light. You are exposed now. It is dangerous, but there is no going back! You feel the roots strengthen and help stabilize you as your manuscript is seen by two, then four, then ten, and sometimes one hundred humans who read your work and all say, “This is a great book! This is exactly how I feel, but could never explain it to anyone.” Hopefully, they tell their friends and your words and thoughts organically blossom, taking on a life of their own, and people respond to the book in ways they could not anticipate when it was a mere concept or outline.
Like the seed, you have risked all and now there is nothing to do but nurture the full grown organism. Harvest some of the seeds from that same life form and prepare to plant once again. For that is why the seed creates a flower – to gain new seed. And that is why you and I write, because it is what we do to propel the world into a continued existence of growth and beauty.
All the universe is a vast creative energy and you are a particle of that universe.
You are an aspect of the creative power that forms all the diversity that we call existence. When you write, you create, and in that action you align yourself with cosmic powers. It does not matter what you write: romance, suspense, mystery, or humor. Great literature and philosophy may have a claim on being more worthy intellectually, but we need all manner of plants and animals within the ecosystem.
Lowly grasses and insects have an equal contribution to life as do orchids and scientific geniuses.
Maybe you are the untapped potential, the next big thing and, toiling away in a coffee shop or the tiny walk-in closet you have converted into a makeshift office, you cannot see your personal brilliance. What if you finish your book? What if you take it to a conference? What if you show it to editors, agents, or critique groups that run late into the night? What if they actually LIKE your efforts and encourage you to seek publication? What if you become known as a great creative energy yourself? And what if you are the one in a million who hits the right chord with society and becomes the next big thing?
What if your project gets the green light? That is another story and it is called, “The Grass is Not Always Greener on the Other Side of the Hill of Success.” The pressure will be on and there will be no time to be feeling green about the gills!
Of course if you do hit the big time and find yourself deep in folding green, I will be Green with envy.
Jeffrey J. Michaels is a Gemini. As such he is deeply involved in whatever interests him at the moment. His describes his book A Day at the Beach and Other Brief Diversions as “metaphyictional,” combining fantasy and humor with metaphysical elements. He is currently polishing a sweeping fantasy series of interconnected tales collectively known as The Mystical Histories. It is varied enough that he says he may even finish most of the stories. In his real life he is a well-respected creative and spiritual consultant. He does not like to talk about his award winning horror story. www.jeffreyjmichaels.com