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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Someone Up There Doesn’t…Or, Perhaps…?


Do you ever have the feeling that someone up there isn’t on your side? I say ‘up there’ but I really mean ‘out there’, since the idea of heaven as an actual destination, let alone a geographical location, is something I find impossible to accept. However, the point is that sometimes things seem to be against you, as an individual. There are theories about this sort of thing. That book of promises, The Secret, is full of the sort of pseudo-philosophy that preaches a belief in some power that will take your side for good. Though why such a power should be interested in any one individual above another is less certain.

What’s my point? Well, I’ve been having one of those periods when things have appeared to gang up against me for no apparent reason. It’s very easy to ascribe such misfortune to some power outside of oneself, to place the blame on fate or your own particular brand of god, or bad luck. In practice, of course, it’s generally just the way life is. Coincidence is far more common than most people realise.

So, coincidences have been lining up to form a peculiar set of circumstances that I could, quite frankly, do without. On the other hand, if I actually examine my life, I realise I’m far more fortunate than many of my fellowmen. I have food in my belly, a roof over my head, a loving wife and daughter, an income, albeit not a large one. There are folk out there living on a handful of rice each day, folk with no visible means of support, folk living in ditches and sewage pipes, folk dying from the combined efforts of extremists who all believe their point of view is not only the right one but a philosophy worth killing and dying for. So, all in all, I feel I have little to complain about, if I face the facts squarely and without self-pity.

What motivated this piece?

Small misfortunes. Small inconveniences. Small disappointments. That’s all.

For the past few years I’ve been struggling to write and get published an adult epic fantasy trilogy. It’s important to me. The story deals with themes that matter to me, themes that I can become quite passionate about. But, in the end, it’s just a series of books. Whether, in published from, the story will cause readers to think, will enhance lives, will, as all writers hope, change some minds, is a matter for speculation.

The coincidence part comes in the way that the first 2 books are written and edited and the first is now with a publisher, whom I’m hoping will publish it, and the series. Whilst I wait, I’m writing book 3. Or, at least, trying to write it. For reasons I won’t bore you with, I would prefer to have that first draft complete before a specific date in September, which means I need to write around 3,500 words a day. For some, such a target is impossible. For others, it represents nothing out of the ordinary. I took part in the annual NaNoWriMo project the year before last and, over the 30 days of November, I turned out over 100,000 words of a new novel. (In the end I decided against publication because it was fatally flawed). But the point is that I wrote the words. I can produce the necessary number of words to hit my target.

So, what’s the problem?

Well, since the publisher asked for the full MS of book 1, which he now holds, I’ve been beset by a number of unrelated domestic accidents. The net effect of these has been to reduce the amount of time I have available for writing.  I sent the MS in full on 19 July. Today is 31 July. That’s 11 days ago.11 x 3,500 is 38,500 words. But, to date, I’ve managed only 24,000 words, or about two thirds of the target. If this rate continues, I’ll miss my self-imposed target by a long way.

But, that’s the point. The target is self-imposed. No one else has set me a goal. No one is asking me to complete book 3 in any given time. It’s entirely my own decision. So, you see, whilst I could wallow in inefficient self-pity, decrying the vagaries of fate for placing barriers in my path, I’ve decided such a response is idiotic. Instead, I’ll continue to write as much as I’m able on every day and be content with my progress, knowing I’m doing all I can to achieve my target. If I fail to hit it, so be it. I’ll have to adjust my expectations and take appropriate action.

And my point here?

Well, most of us have a tendency to set ourselves unrealistic targets and then blame anything but ourselves when we fail to achieve them. Not healthy. Not productive. Perhaps better to set a realistic target in the first place and be prepared to modify our expectations when unexpected barriers fall in our way? So, don’t do yourself down when you fail, or rail against some unseen entity. Accept that sometimes life is like that and learn from it.

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