Friday, August 14, 2009

Fair to Partly Cloudy/Rant

Life is not "fair." Anyone who told you it is, lied.

But that is not necessarily a bad thing. If we all got what we deserved it would be really spectacularly horrible. Because even the best people in the world have their "moments." Times when they are selfish, harsh, judgmental or whiny, stupid and aggressive, or, well you get my drift.

When my son was young I told him: (1) Nobody's good at everything. You're terrific at A, but someone else is better at B or C and it takes all kinds to keep the world running. (2) One skill is not necessarily"better" than the other, even though society may value it more. For example, I may not want to be a plumber, but I am damned fond of indoor plumbing. Ditto for garbage collection.

Why is this coming up? Because I read a spectacular book until late. Because I looked at the portfolio of an artist who did the cover work for our Thrall series (I used to be an art major. I quit because I'm not in the league of folks like him. I've always wanted to be. But I have a hard-working "B" talent at art at best, when I am in practice and have plenty of time. Neither of which is happening now. My talent for that is never gonna be an "A" let alone an "A+". Wish it would. Isn't going to happen.)

BUT I have creativity. I can make things up in my mind and bring them to the real world. Whether it's designing clothes. (Tried that. Would give it a C.) Building things like furniture (Design A-, execution D), or writing. (JACKPOT!)

I am not as good of a writer as I will be in the future. But I am a MUCH better writer than I was when I started. You practice. You read. You listen to the professionals and figure out why they are saying what they are. You learn what works and what doesn't. But I have a talent for it AND I am willing to work my ass off.

Because that's what they don't tell you. (I did, by the way, inform my son.) All the talent in the world is useless if you're not willing to DO THE FREAKING WORK. Learn the techniques. Pay attention. Get off of the internet (oops. Should I stop in mid-sentence?) and get the words on the page. Study the market, send out the queries, collect the rejections, AND KEEP GOING. There's a place for stubborn persistence. THIS IS IT.

And ultimately, it IS a DO IT YOURSELF. Other people can make suggestions. They can partner with you, discuss the ideas, help you with connections and all of the business and non-artistic bullshitor edit the hell out of it when you've got it down. They can make it workable and possible. But in the end, with painting, designing clothes, writing, whatever, YOU have to DO it. Not just talk about it. DO it.

AND one more thing. There is always "the fun part" and the "not such fun part" to every career. There will be things you love. And things you don't. The things you don't still have to get done. Sorry. (Really, trust me. You should see the sh** I have to get done.) I was whining about my day job once a long time ago and my mother said something both irritating (at the time) and profound.

"That's why they call it WORK and they pay YOU. Otherwise they'd call it FUN and YOU'd pay THEM."

I will never have an A talent in the visual arts. So, I could myself the best B I possibly can and work my ass off at it, and probably never get employed professionally because there are other, more talented folks out there. OR I can play to my strengths and go with the writing. I love the writing, so that's a no brainer, no hardship question.

But it makes me sad because I know (because I've seen it) that there are an untold number of people who desperately want to be professional authors. A lot of them have the talent too. But unless they're willing to put in the work (and not just the butt in chair get words on the damned pages work either), it isn't going to happen for them. And worse, there are the others who want it, who desperately work at it, but it isn't going to happen because the gift just isn't there, or not in enough quantity for them to make it professionally. That's HARSH. And it is NOT FAIR. And I am very very sorry about it. But each individual has to decide every time if they're going to keep trying, keep learning, or give up.

I had a profesional agent tell me flat out that I did not have what it takes. I would NEVER be a professional writer. "Don't give up your day job." I quit for a while. But I couldn't give up. Just COULDN'T. And I discovered that (a) writing is SO subjective; (b) that was one person's opinion, and not the end of the world; (c) I needed to work on my craft; and eventually, (d) HE WAS FREAKING WRONG--SO THERE NAH, NAH, NAH. If I could remember his name and address, I'd send him an autographed copy of every single freaking book we've published. (NOT that I'm a hag or bitter or anything.) If I'd listened to him there would be no Sazi, no Thrall, no new series that I'm loving.

Only you can prevent forest fires.

Only YOU can decide whether or not you want to do this enough to put in the work and try to do this with no guarantees of success. Even people who get published once, don't necessarily have more books in them.

It's up to you.

The ball is in your court.

And that's the way it should be.

But don't ever, ever, expect the process to be "fair."

Again, LIFE IS NOT FAIR. According to KS a very good friend of mine, "It's only slightly fairer than the other alternative."


Tammy said...

This is so true!

I finally found my A and I work at it - or I do when not under doctor's orders not to.

As for B or C - I've tried a couple of other things, and writing was one of them - at best it was a C-, oh well, I can live with that. But even getting to that C- I worked my butt off, now though, I can say I truly enjoy my A work and I'm glad to have found it.

Life ain't fair, but sometimes you can still make lemonade.

Suzette said...

I dont know that I necesarily have an A or even a B or C but I'm content. I don't have the skills or the creativity to write, draw, paint, or even speak eloquently, but I again, I am content.

Like you said, life isnt fair and some people will always be more talented or skilled at things I'm not but one day I will find my A. Lord willing there's enough time.

Great blog and it really didnt feel like I rant.

BTW, I did get my copy of CMR. Finishing up Lora Leigh's Bengals Heart first.

Tammy said...

Suzette, if you do'nt mind my asking what did you think of Bengal's Heart? I've heard a couple of different comments, and I'm curious what you thought of it.

Don't worry about spoilers - me luv 'em!! I'm waiting for my copy to get here.

Suzette said...

Tammy, it was ok. Not her best Breed book, though. Cassa and Cabel are constantly fighting which gets old, the mating heat didnt seem to affect them the way it did in other stories. Cassa WAS getting treatments but 11 years to go without your mate...I dont think so. It just wasnt her best Tammy. Before you pick it up, read reviews on it.

I read the reviews but figured this is Lora Leigh and I love her books so I'm sure I'll like it. I've read better.

Shannon said...

Nah nah indeed. I am quite glad that you are ornery enough to prove him wrong. Makes me proud to be your minon : )