In the last month or so, I have found myself in some difficult situations that involve various levels of mediocrity. Let me explain, I have many creative friends, with great ideas. They write books, make movies, and organize events. God bless them, for the hard work they put in, but unfortunately, in their latest go round, the results were mediocre at best. I find this incredibly frustrating, because I am guilty of doing the same thing. For me, I know my most mediocre work is the result of two things: fear and laziness.
Yup, awhile back I wrote a post on the topics of “procrastination” and “doubt” and how one feeds the other. Now it’s clear to me that we’re bumping it up a notch. The fear of: you name it — not being good enough, perfect enough, clever enough, or of not being special — will always exist, it comes with the job. These fears are hard to face, and it is so much easier to simply put your head in the sand, and opt for a nice slice of denial. And denial leads to laziness. “Oh, it’s good enough, I’ll make a few tweaks, and really it will be just fine.” Um. No. Sorry it won’t. “No, really, it’s a little rough around the edges, but no one will notice.” Ah, yeah, we do notice, and it’s still not good. It still needs more work.
Yes, no one wants to hear that last statement: It needs more work. No one wants to receive a rejection letter from an agent, no one wants to see zero sales for their self-published book, no one wants to see people walk out of their movie. But I’ve been seeing a lot of it lately and I felt I had to say something.
This was re-iterated for me at the Spellbinders Writers Conference, Jeff Kleinman, of Folio Literary Management said that 90% of the query letters he receives are from writers who pitch their books too early. And if you polled an number of literary agents you would get the same response. You may be tired of hearing this statistic, but it’s still the norm.
And for writers, I can’t blame them, I’ve done it myself. You think you really did it this time, it’s your best work, it’s taken you hours of and hours of writing, revising, re-thinking. But it’s still not good enough. It still doesn’t measure up and deep down you know that. You know it’s not ready, but you go ahead anyway. You want recognition for all of that hard work, I mean that’s why we write or create art in the first place, so we can be read and seen by an audience who appreciates us. But don’t burden your audience with something that isn’t ready. And I’m one of the laziest people I know, I’m also an attention whore (if I weren’t I wouldn’t have created this blog) and I want the world to love my work, but I know I need to earn that love and respect by owning the hard work that goes into making it the best, owning the hard work it takes to keep improving my skill set.
I know, I can hear you already, but don’t get angry with me, simply because I’m telling you the truth. If you are a writer, it’s because you love good writing, and you know good writing when you read it. When you read your current WIP is it as good as one of your favorite books? Is it as good as maybe the first book that your favorite author wrote?
This site is called “Social Alchemy” for a reason, I pose these questions to you, as I posed them to myself first. If I’m going to make my world a better place, through how I interact with you, through my writing, through my coaching other writers, if I want the world to be filled with less mediocrity, then I have to raise the standards for myself. I can’t ask any of you to try to change, unless I’m willing to do it myself first.
That’s why I am grateful for the opportunity to make big changes in my own life. I am a true believer that once you come to a new inner realization, you must also make an outer manifestation of this change. A few months ago most of us witness the Olympic Games, and were thrilled and awed by the discipline, dedication, and commitment made by those athletes. There was a commercial that ran during the broadcast, outlining some of the sacrifices many athletes made on the road to the Olympics. One line struck me very deeply: “I have not ordered dessert in two years.”
And wouldn’t you know it, I found myself in the grocery store looking at a display of books and I saw, “Primal Blueprint” by Mark Sisson who blogs at marksdailyapple.com The gist of his message is that cavemen did not eat grains, especially processed grains and sugar. And during the last several months I’ve been coming across this message in various forms. Having dear friends with severe gluten allergies, other friends tackling Type 2 Diabetes. I am about 30 pounds overweight and I know its the carbs and the sweets that have been my downfall.
So, as of today, I am giving up both. Is this going to make me a better writer? I have no clue, although much of the literature suggests giving up processed foods will help with brain function. But it is a sacrifice that I am willing to make in an effort to improve my health, my work and my life. I’ve gone off sugar before and know it’s beneficial, but I always caved into my cravings. This program promises that by eating high quality fats (butter, coconut milk, olives, olive oil) that the cravings will diminish.
But honestly, this is my testament to not accepting mediocre food into my body, and not producing mediocre art. Will I succeed? Will I fail? Who knows. But I know I need to start, to make a big change. I’m not expecting any of you to go along with me. I’m just hoping that maybe I might nudge you in the right direction. To move past denial, to kick laziness to the curb and to do your best work. Stay tuned. I won’t be giving you boring statistics on starting weight, measurements, and all of that. But I ask you to come back and see if the writing gets any better.
And I do want to hear from all of you, any one else looking down the barrel of Big Change? Anyone else wanting to break out of their normal pattern of eating, thinking, working? Please feel free to be part of the conversation, and as always, thank you ever so much for stopping by.