I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my writing recently.
I write everyday. Most of it no-one ever sees, that’s a good thing.
This blog is the most regular showcase for my words.
A few folks drop by, a few leave comments, but my audience is small. If you’re reading this, I thank you.
Truth be told it’s mainly self-centred.
It’s self-centred because I feel the need to record my experiences and feelings. It helps me clear my head, it gives me perspective. I’d still do it even if the blog had no visitors.
But deep down I want my writing to do more. I want it to meet the needs and wishes of my readers. Occasionally I’ll get a comment that shows I’ve succeeded but when it happens it’s a fluke. I’m shooting in the dark.
It was the same with my book ‘A Foolish Voyage’. That really was a self-centred exercise. It was deeply personal. It laid a ghost.
Publishing the book was an after-thought. Amazon made it easy, I thought why not?
I’m so glad I did.
Yes it’s put a few quid in the bank and for that I’m grateful. But my greatest reward has come from those who’ve taken the trouble to leave reviews and send me emails.
93 reviews (4.7 out of 5 stars) on Amazon.com
48 reviews (4.7 out of 5 stars) on Amazon.co.uk
The reward I’m talking about here isn’t smug self-satisfaction. Being praised for my achievements has been a rare event in my life and I’m not good at accepting it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a machine. Having complete strangers tell me I’m a decent writer has boosted my self-confidence enormously. I took a big risk putting myself out there and it’s a huge relief that I didn’t get a kicking. If that had happened I probably wouldn’t have produced another word.
I want to keep writing this blog and I want to keep writing books, there is no doubt in my mind about that.
But I’ve also realised that there has to be a purpose, a big enough WHY to keep me sat at the keyboard.
It’s the search for WHY that’s been occupying my thoughts of late.
It’s not about the money.
I certainly can’t write for financial reward alone.
I don’t write to a market and I don’t write to sell. It’s just not me.
Whenever I’m tempted to direct my efforts in that direction I remember what the author Neil Gaiman said during his University of Arts address.
I decided that I would do my best in future not to write books just for the money. If you didn’t get the money, then you didn’t have anything. If I did work I was proud of, and I didn’t get the money, at least I’d have the work.
Every now and again, I forget that rule, and whenever I do, the universe kicks me hard and reminds me. I don’t know that it’s an issue for anybody but me, but it’s true that nothing I did where the only reason for doing it was the money was ever worth it, except as bitter experience. Usually I didn’t wind up getting the money, either.
Providing amusement and entertainment is never going to be my WHY either. Any success I’ve had with that is purely accidental.
Go read Chucks Tiki 38 build blog HERE. That’s how you amuse and entertain. It takes talent I don’t possess and hard work I’m not prepared to do.
In any case the world is changing, It’s difficult for writing to compete with videos of bikini clad beauties sailing around tropical islands. Stew on ‘Luckyfish’ knows that.
Then I remembered something else Neil Gaiman said;
When you start off, you have to deal with the problems of failure. …..a life in the arts, is sometimes like putting messages in bottles, on a desert island, and hoping that someone will find one of your bottles and open it and read it, and put something in a bottle that will wash its way back to you: appreciation, or a commission, or money, or love.
I realised those Amazon reviews were bottles that had washed back to me. I went back through them and discovered something much more valuable than appreciation. I discovered my WHY.
The author hopes his story will make a difference to others. It sure made a difference to me. I hope it does for you too.
Loved this book! it’s a strong story about living life to the fullest, What matters and what may not. I found it very thought provoking about modern life and being real in the world.
Enjoyed Neil”s adventure, made me want one of my own. the last few pages challenged me to revisit my dreams I have put away.
I plan to untie the lines and go. This book makes me want to go sooner.
I’m so glad that Neil wrote this book, it makes me feel good about my own thoughts and feelings. I’ve read many many sailing books but this one has left a mark on my heart and soul:-)!
I started reading it for the “sailing adventure” aspect….but ended up getting so much more out of it.
A Foolish Voyage is the type of book I needed to build my courage to move forward.
This is a very important book for anyone wanting to discover themselves and maybe, just maybe, change their life. I can’t recommend it enough.
If you are feeling mundane and stuck on the treadmill, it makes such a difference to know that other people have felt the same way and have managed to break away and change their lives. Neil has managed to do this despite admitting to being flawed,just like the rest of us.
I have a feeling reading Neil’s book will be a life changer for me, he is right, there is more to life than this.
5 hours after finishing his book I am now embarking on my adventure, better equipped in sailing terms and moreover in “me” terms. Buy this for your children, it will be a book that helps them navigate the challenges within and without. Loved it and thanks.
He’s brought me a step closer to quitting my job (at 51) and moving aboard 🙂
A book to give hope to all of us over 40 still grinding out the daily lie. Live long and thanks for the gift of hope!
Please forgive my self-indulgence, I selected those extracts solely to illustrate an important point.
They show that ‘A Foolish Voyage’ did more than I could have hoped for.
It changed how people felt.
I remembered the fear I had about pushing the button to make ‘A Foolish Voyage’ live. What was I doing telling the world about my stupidity and failure? Showing them how weak-willed I was, how I’d cried.
To me it was simple. Raw honesty was the only way to tell the story true. It was that or nothing.
Back then I hadn’t heard Mr Gaiman’s address, but here’s something else he said;
The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.
So there it is.
I have a voice, I have a mind, I have a story, I have a vision. I have a WHY.
From now on all my writing will have one purpose.
To help you wake up and escape.
I hope you’ll stick around and invite others to join us.
It’s time to break free – Your dreams are waiting.