LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING YOU ALREADY KNOW

Two tweets stuck out to me yesterday. One was from an indie author bemoaning her poor sales. Ads she’d paid for didn’t result in any sales. And she said she was going to give up on her book and assumed no one would ever read it. That made me think of a similar but even sadder tweet from a few weeks ago. Another indie author reported on her book launch, crushed she only sold one copy on the first day. She also seemed prepared to give up.

To that, I say: Give up then. This isn’t for you. If you dreamed up a writing “career” that was massive instant success or nothing, well… that was your first mistake.

Then I happened upon another tweet asking for recommendations, for the most inspiring movies. I was going to reply that the single most inspiring moment in the history of cinema is this:

…but of course someone beat me to it.

Then my brain connected those tweets, and I thought maybe the writing community needed to hear this, absorb this, take this to heart. So here it is again in text form. Read this before you give up because you only sold one book on your “launch day.” Read this before you vilify the evil gatekeepers like agents and editors. Read this before you do anything that means anything to you, and especially before you quit doing anything that means anything to you.

You ain’t gonna believe this, but you used to fit right here. I’d hold you up to say to your mother, ‘This kid’s gonna be the best kid in the world. This kid’s gonna be somebody better than anybody I ever knew.’ And you grew up good and wonderful. It was great just watchin’ you, every day was like a privilege. Then the time come for you to be your own man and take on the world, and you did. But somewhere along the line, you changed. You stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you’re no good. And when things got hard, you started lookin’ for something to blame, like a big shadow.

Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!

Now if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth! But you gotta be willing to take the hits. And not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!

I’m always gonna love you no matter what. No matter what happens. You’re my son and you’re my blood. You’re the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, you ain’t gonna have a life.”

Thank you, Mr. Stallone. You are absolutely right.

 

—Philip Athans

 

Follow me on Twitter @PhilAthans

Link up with me on LinkedIn

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Or contact me for editing, coaching, ghostwriting, and more at Athans & Associates Creative Consulting.

 

 

 

About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, (https://fantasyhandbook.wordpress.com/) is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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