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.
January 2, 2015
Fifty Years Not Out
Fran Macilvey ageing, birthdays, change, optimism, success Fran's School of Hard Knocks 8 Comments
It is our birthday today. My twin sister and I are each fifty years old: fifty years not out. And I am totally, utterly delighted. In cosmic terms, my sigh of relief and gratitude is audible from here to seventh heaven and beyond.
I can’t speak for those who may bewail this ageing milestone, but I have to say, I have never been more cheerful about a birthday. In past years, filled with the angst of youth, I have fancied myself very grown up, maturing and learning lessons, while uneasily eyeing the horizon of older age, unsure what it would bring: prognostications of doom were never far behind my efforts to find and enjoy a life of my own choosing.
Now, having arrived at this day not only unscathed but facing a bright, buoyant future filled with hope, adventure and love, I feel such deep playfulness and joie de vivre. Despite the cold, the rainy sleet and the tendency to confine oneself indoors with a surfeit of turkey leftovers and superannuated mince pies, I feel a child-like glee.
One way or another, I have managed to confound many critics to get to today, while remaining upright, more-or-less in one piece, and without the aid of too many perambulatory mechanisms. If I have managed to arrive here while feeling variously down in the dumps, grumpy and stranded, then, armed with my new optimism, the future is very bright indeed.