If you haven’t learned it yet, perception is everything. The world runs on perception. And people’s perception has little or nothing to do with reality. For instance,  violent crime in Chicago is considered among the worst in the country. It’s frequently in the media, Donald Trump made it a campaign issue, Chicago suffered through nearly 25,000 violent crimes in 2016.

Yet, one of the most violent cities in America is Gallup, New Mexico. True, in 2016, it suffer through less than 500 violent crimes. However, Chicago has a population of more than 2.7 million people while Gallup has a population of around 23, 000 people. Now, to put this in proper context, you must remember that not all violent crimes are murder. The category also includes aggravated assault and rape.

What are the percentages? Less than one percent of the people living in Chicago are victims of violent crimes while more than two percent of the people living in Gallup suffer violent crimes. You’re twice as likely to experience violence in Gallup than you are to experience it in Chicago.

Now, this is just example of perception. Most people not living in Chicago might think that its like Dodge City of the Old West. Which, as it turns out, wasn’t one the worst cities in the Old West. Las Vegas, New Mexico was worse.

You might think I mean Las Vegas, Nevada.  Well, for one thing, Las Vegas is Spanish for “the meadows”.  Another thing is that Las Vegas, Nevada was merely a watering hole and small cowtown in the 1850s and didn’t even start to be anything like it is today until the 1950s.

On the other hand, Las Vegas, New Mexico was founded centuries back by the Spanish. By the late 1800s and early 1900s, Las Vegas, NM was everything like what Las Vegas, NV was portrayed as being in the Mob movies  of the 1950s, 60s, and even up to nowadays. And its violent crime rate was 20 or more times that of Dodge City during the same time period. This doesn’t even include wars with various Native American tribes

Now, why is all this important? Well, because you don’t want to acquire a false perception about writing. For instance, a great advertising campaign won’t guarantee you a lasting readership. Just as in movies or sports, it’s your next film, your next ball game, your next story that matters. You can write a bad story and your audience might diminish. But if your readers are loyal, they’ll wait to see if your next story after that is good.

In other words, your stories are only as good as the effort you put into them. All athletes, all film makers, all writers seek to improve themselves. They study hard to be better. They train hard to be better.

Don’t expect instant success. But don’t give up. Small successes can lead to larger successes, it just takes effort, patience, and time. J. R. R. Tolkien didn’t get up one day and in that single day create the world for either The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’m sure it took him time and effort and deep thought, and maybe lots of trial and error.

Author Ray Bradbury counseled not to expect instant success. He said it takes authors and performers and artists 10-15 years before they actually make enough money to live on.

Sure, there are people like Tom Clancy who achieve rapid success. But The Hunt for the Red October wasn’t an instant success. It took some time before it caught on. And after it did, he had to keep on writing and fulfilling his audience’s thirst for his fiction so as to make more money.

Adventure novelist Clive Cussler has written dozens of novels. He even writes novels with half a dozen or more other writers.

It’s not one, or two, or three novels, plays, screen plays, poems or stories that lead to success, but a constant stream.

So, you have to be ready for the challenge of writing. And that challenge isn’t just the written word, the characters, the story, editing, publishing, advertising, book signings, et cetera, it’s writing another story and another story and another story, on and on and on.

To succeed, you have to write a good story. You have to have a good product.

I come from a farm family. Farmers have to hope tomorrow will better. You have be patient and hope, and pray (if you’re a believer) that all will work out. But you can’t give up. It’s all about hard work and a good product and solid effort.

See you out there.


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