Casualties of Writing

Not all posts are great posts and this might be one of the latter, but I want to talk about about what writers have to give up for greatness, or success, or even just in the beginning when you first sit down to write your a story or novel.  Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”  He might as well have also written, “Nothing great is ever achieved without sacrifice.”

It would be so easy to list everything that at some point or another you have to sacrifice in order to achieve your goals as a writer, but explaining the sacrifice will be tougher.  We can all agree that you have to give up some of your time.  But actually, you have give up a lot more.

What do I mean, “A lot more?”  Well, in giving up your time you have to give up, or sacrifice your time with your friends and family.  You have to sacrifice opportunities to hang with the people you care about the most.  You have to give up building memories that could possibly be very precious and dear to you.

Here’s an example: When author Ray Bradbury first got the idea to write “Fahrenheit 451”, he went out to then office he had in his garage and started to write.  But soon his little daughters found him and pleaded with him to come out and play with them.  What man who is a good father can resist playing his little darlings?  Not Bradbury and not me.  So the next day, Bradbury drove into downtown Los Angeles and rented a room at the city’s library where he completed the first draft to his story in 7 days.  Seven days that he wasn’t playing with and building memories with his daughters.

But what a gift he gave us!  Not just with Fahrenheit 451, but with his whole career.  And what a legacy he left his children.

It’s difficult to given up the time of memory-building with family and friends, but it is one of the things you have to be willing to surrender for success.    And success isn’t just getting published, building a fan base, gaining fame and glory and making money.  Success is also completing whatever you’re working on.  Success is putting your heart and soul and mind into your writing (or composing or dancing and acting or whatever you do).  Success is utilizing your imagination, putting all of your strength and all of your fears (and sacrifices) into your work.  It is doing your best, giving your best, blessing your audience, which in turn blesses you.

Success comes from being a professional, which means putting in your best effort all the time, every time.

So what, you give up your memories and friends and family?  What else?

Well, you don’t have give up your friends and family entirely for success.  You just have to be willing to sacrifice some of it and only you can be the judge of what’s appropriate to surrender.

Some  people think you have to sacrifice your health–but unless your doing it to save someone else, it’s not worth it.  You don’t have to become a drug addict or an alcoholic to feed your muse or achieve some sense of glory and fame.  You might have to give up some sleep.  You certainly will have to give up some of your pride.  And you definitely have to surrender your Ego.

I’m constantly writing about setting aside or surrendering you Ego.  Your Ego is your enemy, seriously  When you want so sing, “I did it my way…” one of Frank Sinatra’s great songs, you’re sacrificing your audience for yourself.

If producer and directer J. J. Abrams had filmed “The Force Awakens” only for himself, it could have been a terrible story and film.  But he loves the Star Wars saga as much as all the fans do and so he created and filmed the best story he could, which revealed his professionalism, as well as to his loyalty to his audience.

Composers like John Williams, James Horner (now deceased), John Barry, Marco Baltrami, and many, many others, also set aside their egos so that they can give the best experience to their audiences they can.   We buy music we love to listen to by musicians and singers and composers because they’re performing and composing their art for us first, and then for themselves.  They’re surrendering their Egos for us.

So, you have to give up making some wonderful memories, having some wonderful times, loving some wonderful people and surrender your Ego so you can bless others with great experiences and great memories.  By doing this, you will feel a great success of accomplishment and receivethe gratitude and affection of four or five, maybe ten, maybe fifty, maybe a thousand, maybe a million fans, or maybe even more.

We write not for ourselves but for everyone else.  And if maybe no else gets it, but just one person, then that’s a beginning.  The first footstep crossing the ground of glory.  The first second of crossing the wilderness of trying something new and maybe, possibly, hopefully wonderful.  The first footprint on the moon of your desires.

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