Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

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Want to Be Successful? Beware of End-of-the-Rainbow Thinking

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Jeremy Schultz
Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Jeremy Schultz

Our culture has been infected with a disease of distortion, what I’m calling “End-of-the-Rainbow-Thinking.” We can all be guilty of this. We see the mega-best-selling-indie, the New York Times best-selling author, the successful small business, the guy with the big house or the family who lives debt-free and we scope-lock on the end result as if this “success” POOF! erupted from the ether.

Reality television superstars, fluke mega-advances for first-time authors, and lottery-winners only reinforce this Get-Successful-Quick-With-No-Effort-On-Our-Part mindset.

The Kardashian Konundrum

A couple days ago, I was checking out at the grocery store and there is an entire issue of a magazine devoted to Kim Kardashian. Why? What has she contributed other than fodder for the gossip mill? Yet, these are the role models that, whether we like it or not, can infect how we view ourselves, our goals and what we seek to accomplish.

We must be mindful to separate junk food “entertainment” from reality.

America in particular has transformed from a culture that once valued hard work and apprenticeship, to one that elevates the ego, the individual, the “self-made”. Yet, serendipity aside, those who’ve experienced authentic success didn’t uncover some pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

They worked and they worked hard. They worked harder, failed and learned to work smarter.

Original image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of dfbphotos
Original image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of dfbphotos

Value the Apprenticeship

Before the Industrial Revolution, skilled labor was very different and had been for centuries. One began studying as an Apprentice under a Master, then, upon reaching a certain benchmark, graduated to Journeyman. After years of skilled practice, a Journeyman might eventually reach the level of Master.

These days, we all have this mistaken notion that we are natural “Masters” on Day One. I can’t speak for any of you, but I know I was this way. I didn’t need craft classes *snort*. I knew how to write a novel. I made all As in English, duh. My biggest concern with my first novel was all the agents who would be fighting over it.

You can laugh at me. I do.

Mastery Myopia

But why I want to bring this up is that, if we believe we should be Masters from the get-go, we risk being less open to feedback, and even potential mentors. Growth is stifled and our gift suffers. We can get discouraged when we haven’t reached a certain benchmark because we are completely unaware that the benchmark was utterly unrealistic to begin with.

For instance, I opened WANA International a year and a half ago. I was a baby CEO. I had people on my team who up and quit because, after six weeks of being “open” we weren’t bazillionaires taking the world by storm. If I hadn’t had my tail end handed to me on a platter by my experiences as a writer, I would have probably bailed, too.

Setbacks are normal. Stalling is normal. Failure is a good thing.

Failure keeps us humble and often opens up better or more efficient ways of doing things. Humility and a realistic perspective liberates us to ask for help, to be open to being teachable. Failures emancipate us from the responsibility of having to “know everything.”

It’s Okay to Be Growing

A year-and-a-half later? I am still growing. I am no longer a Baby CEO. I’m a Toddler CEO well on my way to being fully potty-trained :D. But last week, I was being particularly hard on myself and I stopped. WHY? I’m still relatively NEW.

This isn’t permission to be lax, foolish, lazy, but it is permission to remember I’m learning. I’m learning by doing and sometimes FAILING. I’m reading stacks of business books penned by those who did this “business thing” better (books that make me want to hurl myself into traffic, btw).

When we aren’t grounded in the reality of what it takes to be successful, we’re vulnerable to barbs from the outside world, because, remember…many of them have fantastical thinking, too.

How many people have you met who have a “great idea” for a super-duper-successful story? They believe the only thing separating them from JK Rowling is writing a book. Many outsiders have a similar belief that command of our native tongue naturally qualifies us to be rockstar best-selling authors.

It’s one of the largest causes for the push-back we experience as authors. If our first time to bat book isn’t a home-run runaway best-seller then we’re “failures.”

Again, End-of-the-Rainbow-Thinking.

The Callouses Behind the Curtain

Most of the world sees only the “finished project” or the “outcome of a dream.” It’s the Ooooooh, ahhhhhhh sparkly stuff they see.

What they DON’T see are all the small steps, calloused hands, and hardened resolve led to that place. They aren’t conscious that any success (financial, personal, professional) is merely the final product, a cumulation of tiny “right decisions” and a series of tough lessons from “wrong decisions.”

They see the beautiful “house” not rebar, concrete, pipes, sheetrock, bricks, nails, blood, and smashed thumbs.

People don’t see when we choose to write instead of going to the mall. They don’t see us up until two in the morning to make a deadline even when we KNOW the toddler will be awake in four hours. They don’t see the rejections, the missteps, the @$$chewings because we made a bad choice. Outsiders don’t see the tens of thousands of words cut away, unusable, the hours and creative blood they represent.

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Kenny Louie
Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Kenny Louie

Outsiders don’t see the sacrifice and they won’t appreciate the sacrifice because they weren’t willing to sacrifice, themselves. If they’ve never been through the fire, how can they see it or even value it?

In a world of $100,000 millionaires and instant-credit, the outside world has forgotten. And we can’t control how they think, but we can control how WE think. Every time you choose to write instead of watching TV, count it a victory. Every time you write when you don’t feel like it or research something that is tedious but important, VICTORY!

Every time you stick to the novel you are revising instead of flittering off to a newer “shinier” idea? You’re one step closer to being the professional you’re destined to become. So, lighten up.

Allow room to grow, to fail, to get up and work harder and smarter. You’ll get there. Likely the world will hail you an “instant success” and then you can wink my way because we know better ;).

What are your thoughts? Have you experienced push-back because you weren’t an instant Stephen King or JK Rowling? Are friends and family some of your toughest adversaries? Are you your worst critic? Do you need to learn to give yourself grace? Hey, I did and still do.

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of September, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

WANACon now has Day One and Day Two for sale separately so you can choose if you only can fit part of the conference. Just a note: A LOT of major authors sacrificed time for no or little pay to pay it forward and offer an affordable and easily accessible conference for those who need one and WANA is extremely grateful to have them.

WANACon, the writing conference of the future is COMING! We start with PajamaCon the evening of October 3rd and then October 4th and 5th we have some of the biggest names in publishing coming RIGHT TO YOU–including the LEGEND Les Edgerton. 

Get PajamaCon and BOTH DAYS OF THE CONFERENCE for $149 and all recordings for anything you miss or need to hear again. Sign up today, because seats are limited. REGISTER HERE.

For those who are total newbies, I am running a Writer’s Guide to Social Media Class TONIGHT for $39 5-7 EST (NYC time). Use WANA15 for 15% off. We will cover the major platforms, what they do, and which ones might be right for you and your brand.

I am also holding ACHOO!! The Writer’s Guide to Going Viral 5-6:30 EST (NYC time). This class is $49 and, again, use WANA15 for 15% off. Not all content is created equal. This class helps you understand how to understand how search engines work, how to gain favor, and how to create content that will give you traction. Feel like you are blogging to the ether? This class can help.

106 thoughts on “Want to Be Successful? Beware of End-of-the-Rainbow Thinking”

  1. HeatherHeather

    I love this. I’ve often thought about this with shows like Glee and musicals. We see the glitz and glamour. We don’t see all the broken feet, or hear the endless hours of instruments just playing scales to master technique so we can play flight of the bumblebee. I think it’s a good reminder for writing and platform building. We have to master technique so it becomes easy, and we can put ourselves out there. It takes time.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Hugs! Thank you. I love you guys too, which is why I hope these posts grow you into the greatness you were meant for <3

      Reply
      September 24, 2013
  2. K. L. Stevens (@KL_Stevens)K. L. Stevens (@KL_Stevens)

    Great post, Kristen! This is something that can also be applied to all parts of life, and not just writing. Sometimes I forget that I’ve only just started something, and can’t expect to be as good as everyone else by Day Two.

    There are a lot of times I just wish I could get to the part of being a published and productive author, but I figure if I surround myself with role models and friends who have achieved that victory through hard work and determination (instead of overnight successes) I’ll be more likely to shoulder my fair share of the work.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  3. diahannreyesdiahannreyes

    Thanks for the great advice. And the reminder to keep on keeping on– as well as that the seemingly endless hours or what sometimes feels like time wasted is valuable time and part of the writer’s life.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  4. John KellerJohn Keller

    BINGO! Great observation. What can be done? Our values are out of whack. Keep up the fight. Love your insight.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  5. BoneSparkBoneSpark

    I am new to your blog, but not for long. This was a great article. We are so far from the “hard work=success” mentality these days, and it is absolutely crippling to writers to forget that it takes actual blood spilt (well, spilt on the page) to get to the work that will endure. Thank you for the timely reminder.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  6. potentlanguagepotentlanguage

    Thanks so much for this. I’m commenting not because I want you to put my name in a hat but because I really appreciate what you wrote! Every time I get frustrated by how long it is taking me to write my novel, I have to remind myself being “a writer” is as much about writing as it is about being read.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  7. miraprabhumiraprabhu

    Hello Kristen — great article — and just what I needed. While I was writing my novel–which incidentally took 20 years to complete to my satisfaction — it went through 7 major incarnations during that time — i would always find a great book on writing that would remind me of the need to persevere and slog my butt off if i wanted to produce the best I could. Your article did that for me right now — thank you!

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  8. museofhellheroesmuseofhellheroes

    I absolutely love your posts. Not only do you talk about really important things like this and cogently, but you never fail to give me at least one good belly laugh! Here was today’s: “I’m reading stacks of business books penned by those who did this “business thing” better (books that make me want to hurl myself into traffic, btw).” I desperately needed that visual this morning… thanks!

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  9. Carl D'AgostinoCarl D'Agostino

    For decades in my early years I wore out a lot of shoes chasing these rainbow things. Then I figgered out that you gotta make your own. That worked.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  10. Connie B. Dowell (@ConnieBDowell)Connie B. Dowell (@ConnieBDowell)

    Too true. It’s easy to look at others’ success and feel hard-done-by, but odds are even the folks who appear to have had overnight success worked for a long time before that happened.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  11. Shannyn SchroederShannyn Schroeder

    It’s not just the outsiders that don’t see everything. I spent years helping my husband build his construction business. More hours than I care to think about, since I was an English major, not a business major. (Although I must admit it was good training for the business of publishing). He looks at my writing and wonders when it will be profitable. I constantly have to remind him of the years and thousands of hours we worked to make his business successful. Nothing happens overnight.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
    • Carl D'AgostinoCarl D'Agostino

      Agree. “Reach for the stars but keep your feet on the ground.” Theodore Roosevelt

      Reply
      September 24, 2013
  12. sharonhughsonsharonhughson

    Amen, sister!
    Realizing that attaining any dream takes work is a bummer, but it’s the first step in a 12 Step Program to Success.
    Thanks for offering up yet another reality check, Master Kristen.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  13. LinaLina

    I went through the steps of writer-hood–beginning at “I’m going to be rich and famous” and ending with “I’m going to publish something dammit!” It was only when I reached that ending point, when I realized I’m not glitter–and neither are you–that I published my first short in a magazine. I’m very humble about it. I know that there are lots of other great writers out there. I ask if I deserve it. But then I realize I worked really REALLY hard for this. I know a few people who decided they wanted to be an author last week, self-published–with bad editors–and their books are smothered in cliches and bad grammar. It bothers me when I see they have more “likes” than me, or more followers. It makes me wonder if doing this the hard way is the best way. But I have to remember that I’m doing this for a different reason. I write hard to give quality work to readers, to respect the craft. I write to be happy.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  14. swiveltamswiveltam

    You did it! YOU brought tears to my eyes. Tears of thankful joy. Thank you for this post!

    “Every time you write when you don’t feel like it or research something that is tedious but important, VICTORY!”

    “Every time you stick to the novel you are revising instead of flittering off to a newer “shinier” idea? You’re one step closer to being the professional you’re destined to become. So, lighten up.”

    I jumped for joy at: “if we believe we should be Masters from the get-go, we risk being less open to feedback, and even potential mentors. Growth is stifled and our gift suffers.”

    I have recently joined a writer’s group and I wonder is there is not a lot of this mentality going on. I self-question constantly and like to try new things. At our last meeting my short story was in the hot seat, and although I was prepared for “I didn’t get that metaphor, ” or “can you make more clear who is talking here,” or “This bit of dialogue does not sound authentic” I was not prepared to DEFEND, WHY I had written in present tense. (I know, I know, trendy, a lot of folks don’t like it). The point is, I researched and found many successful authors who do, BUT I went ahead and REWROTE the entire thing in past tense.

    The BIGGER point: These “critics” were so convinced that their way of writing was more masterful they couldn’t consider any other way of writing a story and reduced me to tears by the time I got home (and NOT tears of joy).

    Anyway, your post made my morning, thank you!

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  15. Shea FordShea Ford

    Absoutely!! My hubby is my worst adversary where writing is concerned. He read somewhere of a NYTBS who still wasn’t successful enough to help with the family finances. Ugh! Just leave me alone and let me prepare for NaNoWriMo.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  16. Graeme SmithGraeme Smith

    Greetings, Lady Kristen

    Well – Idiotic ones :-).
    It’s been said before (probably by me) that there’s rocks round here called me granfer when they was mountains. Which means, among other things, that I remember the Nineties. A few other decades as well – but in this context, I’ll mention the Nineties.
    No. Not Doc Martens. And please – really, really not the Boston style Birkenstock. I can hear feet out there screaming in terror just at the words :-).
    No. When I say the Nineties – I mean, I suppose, 1996. Because that was the year Donald Maass released ‘The Career Novelist’. and one thing he said there has always stuck with me. Well, a lot of things have – but one was about rainbows. Sort of :-).
    In the Afterword – ‘Who will get rich writing fiction in the Nineties’ – he talks about his regular six figure earners. I won’t quote the whole thing here – it’s free to download these days – but he says six figure earners on his books (remember, this is the Nineties, when six figures could buy you a small country :-P) shared some traits. Traits like these:

    They were genre writers.
    They published novels for ten years before reaching six figure levels.
    Their six figure incomes (from writing) arrived before they ever got six figure advances (worth remembering these were the days when self and e-publishing were crying their first birth tears)
    They believed in their writing, and had unique voices.

    I’ve actually skipped over one – because I think it applied more then than now. Which one is left as an exercise for the reader (blush). But the thing he stresses is – it ain’t the mega-deals. It ain’t the One Big Book. To quote Mr Maass directly, it’s ‘a period of many years and many books’.
    Or – to put it another way – it ain’t rainbows :-).
    so even though things have changed a whole bunch, though we now have an e-world and a self-publishing world The Nineties never even dreamed about (or, in the case of some Publishers, maybe just screamed about in their nightmares :-P) – maybe some things really haven’t changed. And maybe won’t ever. And maybe it still really is all about (again, to quote Mr Maass’ words) ‘what truly successful novelists have been doing all along: telling first-class stories.’
    Thoughts? Comments?

    The Idiot

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  17. Inese Poga Art GalleryInese Poga Art Gallery

    I couldn’t agree with you more. People who work on themselves and their creations are sooooo often ignored. Because money comes first. And rich airheads with post-plastic surgery beauty who have not contributed any single bit to what is the global growth and cultural awareness always take the front pages of magazines and, as you mention in your post, often entire magazines. Well, sometimes, it means much more what stays and what survives. Good writing and art usually survives and rewards (too bad that not rarely after death) the creator.
    Fantastic post which points the entire picture of nowadays scenery!!! Congratulations on such an insightful and touching article!

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  18. Kate SparkesKate Sparkes

    This is fantastic! I just wrote on my blog yesterday about the expectation that our first efforts will be amazing, when the reality is that it’s OK to be a beginner and to need to learn. I’ve been guilty of “end of the rainbow” thinking in the past, but I think my goals and plans are becoming more realistic.

    I think back to days when I’d read a book and think “Jeez , I could write better than that…” And then I tried, and it was only then that I learned to respect the work that goes into any book. I feel terrible now for thinking that way, but I hear so many other people saying it, whether in conversation or in book reviews.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  19. Cindy SampleCindy Sample

    I retired from a position of banking CEO to follow my childhood dream of being a mystery author. My business background provided me with the knowledge that it takes time and perseverance to achieve your goals if you want a well run company – or a well written book. I used to say that I’d made every mistake you can make but it sometimes is the best way to learn. Kristen keep on going and making those mistakes. We’re all learning from you!

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  20. rgayer55rgayer55

    Geez, here I’ve been honing my laziness and procrastination skills for years and now you tell me that won’t cut it. That work thing sounds like something that should be illegal, or at least immoral. Sure, I get up at 5 am most mornings and write, but what else are you going to do at that hour, sleep? People who write with the intent of become rich and famous aren’t just dreaming, they’re delusional. When people read my stuff and get a chuckle, I feel like I’ve had a pretty good payday.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  21. christyfarrisbookschristyfarrisbooks

    Thank you so much for the wonderful advice. On days when you open your email to nothing but rejections, it is difficult to keep going. But if I didn’t get rejections, I wouldn’t be trying! Thanks again! 🙂

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  22. Michael LaneMichael Lane

    I needed this. I am definitely hard on myself about this stuff. So thank you–it’s time for me to lighten up.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  23. lisenminettilisenminetti

    I do love your posts. I love to write. Would I love to make money from it some day? Of course. But if I don’t it won’t make one iota of difference to me. When I hear a complete stranger tell me “hey I loved what you had to say” – that is my reward. Though my super secret dream is to sell enough books to get a new stove. But that’s not too much to ask, is it?

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  24. robakersrobakers

    What you said is important. It is okay to fail, it is not okay to quit. Don’t be scared because anything worth doing must be done.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  25. cynthiagrstaceycynthiagrstacey

    Thanks Kristen this is the pep talk I needed. I have been having lots of self doubt recently and the other day I finally had an agent interested in reading the next 50 pages of my book. I smiled the whole day. Even if she doesn’t read the rest, it helped. This is a hard business and I believe I am my own worst critique. I love your posts they are always an inspiration.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  26. Marie AnneMarie Anne

    This is something we all need to hear sometimes. Thanks for reiterating it. Who wants to be a Kardashian, anyway? Bleh.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  27. tomwisktomwisk

    Thanks Kristen, I just started a rewrite of a piece that I thought as near gold. There are a lot of gilt turkey droppings in it and finding them is work. Writing is about 33% ego. Writers won’t admit to it. I wrote pieces that I thought were ready to go. They were no where near ready. Oh yes, did the book make it to Amazon? I need it.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  28. Charlotte M. Liebel / @SharliebelCharlotte M. Liebel / @Sharliebel

    Awake, now! Kristen… thanks for this wake-up call and valuable inspirational looks at my reality. Not a ‘rainbow’ dweller but writing is the work of dreamers and creates desires for stars and those colorful rainbows. Re-blog, link back and Twitter from: Sharliebel’s Blog http://sharliebel.wordpress.com ~Charlotte M. Liebel

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  29. JulieJulie

    Hello,
    I am a bad writer. Now. That is not to say I will progress and become better, but I recognize with hard work and time, the words will come. I am going to be a bad writer writing bad fiction for a while. I understand that. For a while I pushed my self. Now, I just relax and be willing to learn.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  30. writeopiaguidewriteopiaguide

    I’ve been hearing and reading this a lot lately, and I can only conclude that this means I’m reading and listening to some great stuff, especially since I tend to get caught up in the glitz and the glamour, but I’m making a concerted effort to keep grounded. Thanks so much for this post! Often times we are often our own worst enemies, in that we judge ourselves too hard and then talk ourselves into giving up if we don’t become instant successes, just like you said. I needed this today. Thanks so much!

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  31. Rachel ThompsonRachel Thompson

    I downer side of being a writer is learning all about the human condition, it is inescapable unless you remain willfully blind and uninformed writers don’t write well. I’ve been struggling with existential angst for years. What is success and failure anyway and why does it matter? It’s all just social constructionism. The more I learn about human nature, and the hard truths and realities thereof, the less faith I have in mankind and human survival. A paradigm shift in human consciousnesses is necessary but it will never happen. Whatever self delusion, circular logic or normalcy bias one favors, it’s best placed in the forefront; forget raw, qualitative truth. The truth will not set you free it will shatter your illusions and blow your mind.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  32. sarabarnes98sarabarnes98

    Reblogged this on The Written Odyssey and commented:
    As always, this is a great post. I think Kristen points out quite a few things we writers tend to forget in favor of wanting to reach the end of the rainbow.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  33. Dennis LangleyDennis Langley

    You always know what to say and when to say it. That’s why I follow your blog. You really make my day.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  34. ArphaxadArphaxad

    Well said, and much needed to be heard. This is the kind of thing that should be repeated to every person we know and I will do my best to spread the word.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  35. Elle KnowlesElle Knowles

    Thank you, thank you! Just what I need to hear. I’ve been beating myself up lately because I can’t seem to get the sequel to ‘Crossing The Line’ finished. It’s all in my head, but sometimes takes a while to get to paper! It will come in time and the only deadline I will miss is the one I set for myself.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  36. galealbrightgalealbright

    I am frequently afflicted with grandiose thinking. Have you every imagined yourself being the guest on Jon Stewart and explaining just how you happened to write a best selling novel? Guilty. Your blog takes me back to basics. Get up, work, work harder, don’t give up.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  37. sallybaylesssallybayless

    Thank you so much for this post. Exactly what I needed to hear at this very moment.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  38. authorjanebnightauthorjanebnight

    Thanks for this post. I needed the reminder that many of the big names and superstar writers had failures and hardships too. It took time and patience to be a best seller.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  39. alicamckennajohnsonalicamckennajohnson

    So your saying no more shopping for the outfits I’ll wear on my international book tour?? LOL I suffer from this, I was sure within minutes of self-publishing that money would fall from the sky. Now I am doing the hard work write, edit, revise over and over and over- but I’ll keep on eye on the sky just in case LOL

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  40. LaneyLaney

    I was asked the other day what inspired my writing—if I had a favorite book, craft book, website, or blog on writing. I said, Kristen Lamb. And THIS post is the reason why. There are many days I feel like sinking into a hole. I don’t. Thank you for the last three years of ‘spot on’ real, funny, honest, advice.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  41. Ann BrownAnn Brown

    I definitely have end-of-the-rainbow syndrome. I keep thinking I’m going to become an instant success with each project. My most recent project, a new adult psychological thriller, has been rejected and given fairly nasty review comments in contests. Tail between legs. Whimper. I have put my lungs, urine, and hair into this one. (I tried to avoid a cliché here, he-he-he.) Nobody wants it. I love it. I want to tell this story. I see greatness. Nobody else sees greatness. And I ask myself one moment, was I dropping acid when I wrote this? and the next moment I think, yeah, man, when I sell the movie rights to this one, ho-ho-ho, baby. End-of-the-rainbow.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  42. kabrown4kabrown4

    One of the hardest lessons I ever learnt in life generally was when I graduated from my first degree. I assumed because I had one everyone would want to hire me. The word naïve doesn’t cover it. There is nothing like hard graft and a reality check to ground you. I’m more than aware that I might not be successful as an author, but it doesn’t mean that I’m going to give up. Will I be upset if do fail? Well yes, but because I’ve come to terms with not being as naïve or over ambitious anymore, whether as a writer or generally in my life I can experience the journey more and see how sometimes reaching the end of the rainbow isn’t the ultimate achievement. Being happy with what life has given you is just as important; success is just a bonus now.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  43. M T McGuireM T McGuire

    Excellent advice. It’s easy to look at the lovely glidy swan and forget the legs that are paddling away like buggery underneath.

    Cheers

    MTM

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  44. Ryder IslingtonRyder Islington

    When my brother (10 years my senior and a millionaire) heard my book had been published, he called to see if he could borrow some money. It was just a joke–I think–but he did expect that book to be a great success. He doesn’t understand that it takes more than writing a great book. The selling of it is sooo much harder!

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  45. Romy SommerRomy Sommer

    Kristen, your posts have a habit of coming in just when I need them! I’m definitely my own worst critic. And lately I’ve been feeling the push back because WHY haven’t I reached that pot of gold yet after all the hours & work I’ve put in? I see others striking gold and tend to think “perhaps I’m just not worth the gold”. Thanks for the reminder that just because I’m still chasing the rainbow doesn’t mean I’m a failure or that it won’t still happen!

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  46. Tarla KramerTarla Kramer

    Again, love this. We have been doing a bible study on the parable of the seeds and yesterday’s session was about how long it actually takes for things to grow. And here is the same message presented differently. It’s nice to be told to persevere instead of to quit.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  47. catemasterscatemasters

    It’s hard not to let it affect you when you see unknown authors shoot to bestseller lists overnight. Seemingly. But I bet it wasn’t overnight. I bet they wrote and wrote and wrote for years, and were finally rewarded.
    That’s what keeps me going!

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  48. malindaloumalindalou

    I love this, especially the beautiful house metaphor. Good Stuff.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  49. Leisl LeightonLeisl Leighton

    I’ve been smacked around the head so many times during my writing journey that I’m surprised it’s still head shaped. It took me years to realise I needed the help of others and join a writing group, get a critique partner, join RWAustralia. I’ve learned heaps and I’m still learning. The biggest lesson of all is that the journey is never over, that I can always grow (I think height-wise I must be out in the stratosphere by now, perhaps even into space heading to the moon) and there is room for more growth. Bring on the learning growth hormones, the smacks upside the head when I get down or complacent, the thick skin that mostly allows me to bounce off the floor when it all gets to be too much and the love for writing that’s always there, whispering in the back of my head, wanting me to tell a good story.

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  50. M.McLeary-GrahamM.McLeary-Graham

    I enjoyed this blog post. A big dose of reality to live by on a daily basis, to keep me grounded in a momentum that helps me avoid writers block. Realizing that the biggest part of writing is the re-writing, a sneaky human foible–impatience–can sneak in to block the writing road. Thanks for this blog-post. I will re-read it anytime I am visited by the hooded-claw of impatience,

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  51. donnajeanmcdunndonnajeanmcdunn

    My first book was published in May 2013 and relatives and friends ask me all the time how much money I’ve made so far. My reply has always been and will continue to be, “Well, I won’t get rich off of one little E-book.”

    I’m mean really, I wouldn’t ask them how much they make from their jobs!

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  52. carlfmaulbeckcarlfmaulbeck

    I believe the key, as is the case with all crafts, is ‘measured response’

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  53. Roberta (RJ)Roberta (RJ)

    Love stopping in to read your encouraging posts. 🙂

    Reply
    September 24, 2013
  54. ravenclarkravenclark

    I definitely suffered from end of the rainbow thinking up until about 6 years ago. If I hadn’t had some hard to hear critiques from other writers and started listening to their advice, I would still have the same problem. Posts like these keep me from slipping backward into that line of thinking again. Thank you so much for keeping us grounded, Kristen. 😀

    Reply
    September 25, 2013
  55. lauraefloreslauraeflores

    For a short while I was sliding down the rainbow to my gold pot and then landed head first, hopefully with hard work I will build an audience.

    Reply
    September 25, 2013
  56. Rohan 7 ThingsRohan 7 Things

    Really great post, and all so true! I’ve been playing guitar professionally for the past 12 years and I would not consider myself a master. And even the guitar masters are not guaranteed success and wealth just for being amazing.

    There is immense satisfaction and personal success to be had simply through sacrifice and dedication to a skill, regardless of whether or not circumstance decides to reward us with material wealth and reputation.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Rohan.

    Reply
    September 25, 2013
  57. andrewknightonandrewknighton

    I think that one of the most damaging things about the instant-success thinking is that it can make us feel bad about failing along the way. Real work involves setbacks and learning from them, but the focus that’s put on instant success can cause people, myself included, to become depressed by those setbacks. But as you pointed out, all that hard work has value in itself – it’s not just about the mythical happy ending.

    Reply
    September 25, 2013
  58. myselfishdreammyselfishdream

    I love this blog and all that’s in it. Thanks for the invaluable advice.

    Reply
    September 25, 2013
  59. melorajohnsonmelorajohnson

    This is one reason I love reading author’s biographies. When you actually hear about the hard work they put in, it makes you feel like more of an author yourself to be doing that hard work. I’m just getting to the point where I’m gaining an understanding of the long process of revision. My goal in life isn’t to finish a novel and sell it and get a movie deal for a million dollars (though that would be nice.) It’s to keep writing, creating stories, day after day, sell some, and keep writing some more. My goal isn’t an end but a journey. In that respect, I’m already there.

    Reply
    September 25, 2013
  60. conniecockrellconniecockrell

    Thanks for this post. Yep, it’s discouraging to put book after book out and after 2 years, get excited when Amazon sends me $12. Sigh. But as you say, I’m still in my apprenticeship. It seems like every month I learn something new, or finally understand some craft point I learned 18 months ago. So, still staying with the program, working and hoping.

    Reply
    September 25, 2013
  61. Rachael DahlRachael Dahl

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m currently editing my finished WIP and my family wants me to self publish it right now because they “think” it’s brilliant. First, they don’t understand that they are biased and not everyone will love me. Second, they think all you have to do is self publish and you’ll become rich. (Wish the last one was true.) What I’ve learned is that I have to learn my craft and study and write and edit and then do it all over again.

    Reply
    September 25, 2013
  62. riversofeden1riversofeden1

    Just started following your blog and I love this post. It hits with such wisdom and grace. I have to remind myself daily to walk one step at a time, not looking too far ahead, so that I accomplish something great day by day. In the day by day, I know that I am going somewhere and that matters to me. Looking too far ahead at the Golden Rainbow leaves little appreciation for the moment and it is exactly in the moments that goodness always surprises us. Love your blog.

    Reply
    September 25, 2013
  63. rosedandrearosedandrea

    I am (always have been) a pie-in-the-sky dreamer. It is taking a lot of mental control to remind myself, sometimes on an hourly basis, that it will take at least a dozen books before I really start to make any money. The first couple books will not catapult me into the limelight. I will not become an over-night success.
    That’s not to say it’s not a hope. There is, however, a huge difference between dreams and expectations. Dream big, expect reality. The dreams will keep you moving. The reality will keep you sane through the process. 🙂

    Reply
    September 25, 2013
    • M.McLeary-GrahamM.McLeary-Graham

      I agree. Dreaming Big can be a great motivator but having realistic expectations forces us to make room for a lot of patience.

      Reply
      September 25, 2013
  64. Alison DohertyAlison Doherty

    I feel like I’ve definitely experienced push back for things not coming together faster. Everyone keeps asking me when my book is coming out, when I only started writing it seriously about 6 months ago.

    Reply
    September 25, 2013
  65. ravenclarkravenclark

    The dreams will keep you moving. The reality will keep you sane through the process.

    Beautifully put, Rosedandrea. And it’s true.

    Reply
    September 25, 2013
  66. Tamara R.Tamara R.

    I look back to when I first started my writing journey and I have to laugh! I shelved the first “great book”, then the second. My husband didn’t help by asking when I was going to produce a best seller so that he could retire and buy a pheasant hunting club. Ha. I told him that I hated to rain on his parade, but it would be a small miracle, or even a big one, if I ever made it to the best-seller list – and he wouldn’t be able to retire on one book title. I’ve been working on short stories and my skills are evolving nicely. Each step forward is a success, and on most days, I love the craft…and there are those moments when I want to throw my laptop out the window. It’s all a part of the process.

    Reply
    September 26, 2013
  67. Dave StovallDave Stovall

    I’m trying to teach my daughter these things, to question everything our media and society present to us about “success”.

    Reply
    September 26, 2013
  68. Vampire SyndromeVampire Syndrome

    The cover image is a wry comment on the pot of “gold” at the end of the rainbow.
    Look closely, those are regular, everyday Canadian nickels and quarters in that gold-tinted photo.
    “All that glitters is not gold”, expressed via Photoshop color filter 😉

    Reply
    September 26, 2013
  69. Britt SkrabanekBritt Skrabanek

    Thank you for this! Just what I needed to hear before editing during my little bit of life spare time this weekend. Victory is mine!

    Reply
    September 27, 2013
  70. Successful EnterprisesSuccessful Enterprises

    Reblogged this on Let's Talk About It and commented:
    This is an awesome article! I have a 17 year old son who is an author as well and in the process of writing his very first book. Some of the thoughts and realizations that you mentioned here are a paradigm shift for me….. and I will certainly be cognisant for my son and relay this information to him as well. Thank you so much for the reality check!

    Reply
    September 29, 2013
  71. Successful EnterprisesSuccessful Enterprises

    This is an awesome article! I have a 17 year old son who is an author is well and he is working on his very first book. Some of the thoughts and insights that you shared in this article was definitely a reality check for me. I will certainly be more than cognisant to share this information with him so that if his first book isn’t a one night wonder he is not discouraged. Thanks again for the insight!

    Reply
    September 29, 2013
  72. emrosebeeemrosebee

    Thank you, loved this and am especially grateful for this reminder at this particular moment…

    “Every time you stick to the novel you are revising instead of flittering off to a newer “shinier” idea? You’re one step closer to being the professional you’re destined to become. So, lighten up.”

    Thanks. The shiny can wait 🙂

    Reply
    September 29, 2013
  73. Jason GallagherJason Gallagher

    I was watching J.K. Rowling’s 2008 commencement speech at Harvard (worth the watch at http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=wHGqp8lz36c) and it reminded me of reading this post by Kristen and her words on “failure is a good thing.”

    Excerpt from Rowling’s Speech:

    “So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

    You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

    Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.”

  74. eurekascarleteurekascarlet

    Wow, while readin your blogs, i did get a motivational words coming from you:

    “Everytime you choose to write instead of watching TV, count it a Victory.Everytime you write when you dont feel like it or research something that is tedious but impotrtant, VICTORY!

    Love this part of your blogs. I am too faaaaaaarrrrr away from JK Rowling, if I would be compred to her, I am more like an atom. Anyway thank you for sharing this wonderful blogs of yours, Mam Kristen!

  75. NickNick

    I totally agree on this. I am about to rewrite the last chapters of my novel, again. But it wouldn’t be what it is without my writers group. First I had to find them, then came the hard part. Sticking it out, through the recession and everything. I’m still learning to write short stories and articles

      • wiesenirjawiesenirja

        Thank you!
        And a warm hug in return from Tuebingen, Germany.

        Reply
        September 11, 2014
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