I know, I set up for a Rolling Stones song with this title, but instead went with Jay Z. I think my friends who know me personally will be unsurprised by that turn, but that being said, I want to discuss the arc of feelings I’ve gone through over the past week:
Last Friday I received the first copies of Beneath the Wood in my hands (and promptly put them in the mail to friends I promised them to). I enjoyed the feeling of reaching the finish line with BtW, I’d gone even further than I originally thought I would or could, and I was incredibly satisfied with the look and feel of the final product, not to mention the story itself.
Over the next couple days, I enjoyed that comfortable feeling, of the break I mentioned I’m taking while my editor works on Five Talents and knowing that I have a path and schedule moving forward for Five Talents, Unicorns & Satellites, and more to come.
Then that satisfaction quickly melted away. I immediately felt that as good as it was “going the distance” with Creed for 13 rounds as Rocky did, I still want that belt. I still want to write something an agent or publisher says is worth their time putting to market. A panic attack later, I started digging into my notes on my next project, really refining the outline and my notes on the approach, tone and voice.
All of my friends I’m describing U&S to are giving me looks like I’m crazy, which is similar to the looks I got for BtW, so I’m taking that as a good sign. I’m ready to move forward. Success is fine to enjoy, and I’m proud of Beneath the Wood, but it’s now the bar to surpass with my next projects and work.
On a related note, I’ve been listening to the Kurt Vonneguys podcast from cracked.com, (he’s my favorite author) and the hosts point out a lot of biographical information about Vonnegut, most crucial to me is that Vonnegut’s first novel, Player Piano, was published when he was 30, and it was a complete flop.
It’s nice to know that even if that level of achievement is very likely beyond what I’m capable of, that I’m not exactly behind either.
Message today: stay hungry friends. Don’t beat yourself up, but do strive to improve on your past. As Hemingway said, true nobility is not superiority to your fellow man, but to your past self.
We move forward.