Believing in best

I have been browsing the website of the Society of Authors, which offers reasonable and very practical advice. Thank you, SoA. Membership is a possibility, and I shall reflect on that in the next little while. However, reading through their eye-opening material I cannot help detect a certain amount of realism creeping in. Of course. Realism is what everyone needs, isn’t it?

An advocacy group or a trade union rather specialises in offering realistic advice. Artists often need practical help, perhaps more than other professionals might. Before you rush to condemn my blatantly prejudicial pronouncement, I mean merely to suggest, tentatively, that those accountants, lawyers and architects who enjoy their jobs are probably better equipped, on the whole, to tackle the world of business, money and hard fact. Artists are perceived as nurturing dreams, rather lost in the realms of colour, music or written whimsy. To be creative, artists allow themselves to be carried away on the wings of fancy; and history is littered with examples of artistic geniuses who could not manage the transition to hard-headed marketing guru; which is why I suspect that artists, on the whole, benefit greatly from practical advice.

However, we have to tread a careful line between heeding practical advice and believing it. We may listen and learn, but to take into ourselves the wisdom that, for example, “(Writers) are appreciative and supportive of any efforts a publisher makes to promote their book, and entirely understand that in the vast majority of cases, given the number of books being published every year and how busy PR departments are, all an author can expect is a couple of weeks of effort around first publication” is to feel a toe-curling anxiety that is hardly beneficial to our prospects.

To succeed, whatever our private weaknesses and reservations, we need to believe that what we have already achieved, and what we are about to achieve, amounts to success. ‘For what we are about to achieve, may the Lord make us truly thankful.’ Without that belief, which often flies in the face of all the practical advice that others offer, we will surely sow the seeds of our failure. Writers achieve miracles every day, in blogs, letters, in emails carefully crafted, and witty replies on FB or a perfect Tweet. We need to believe in miracles, and keep seeing them everywhere in what we do. Success is not what other people tell us. It is what we believe about ourselves.

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