There are so many blunders in life that are really only visible in the rear view mirror. Mostly that’s because we refuse to listen until we can actually see wreckage.
Predictions of dire results don’t always impress us and we believe somehow our experiences will be different.
I am such a great example of this method of living and I offer up my own stubborn insistence on doing it my way as a cautionary tale.
I’ve been in the writing business for over 20 years and in that time I’ve managed to produce three books under my own name.
Not one of them is in the same genre, which has made my agent, Rachelle Gardner, breathe deeply more than once before trying to explain to me, yet again, why that’s a bad idea economically.
One genre, like my first novel, “Wired,” which was a thriller, attracts one type of audience who like the book and then look for another, similar storyline over in their favorite part of the bookstore, even if it’s only online.
A second book, though, that’s in women’s fiction, like “The Sitting Sisters” causes confusion. Readers wonder if it’s the same author, are they similar in writing style and will they even like this one.
It’s a very bad idea to spur readers into asking so many questions before they make a purchase. Usually, it results in them moving on to someone who’s a little easier to figure out.
But, new readers may discover that second novel and then they too, hope in vain for a similar book. However, I was still more interested in some vague notion of proving something and wrote a nonfiction book, “A Place to Call Home” that was both informative about orphanages and a memoir.
That has to be my finest moment in terms of not really hitting a genre at all.
Booksellers usually give up and put the book in sociology. Imagine the traffic that area is getting.
Now, everyone who has read any one of those books has loved them and wanted more.
But, like I said, they wanted something similar and didn’t seem to get my whole, I did it my way, style of choosing what to write next.
However, once there were enough years of critical praise without the monetary rewards I finally became willing to listen and try a new strategy.
Pick a genre, stick with it and see what happens.
Thrillers won the day and the new one will be in Rachelle’s hands shortly.
There’s a lesson for everyone in my tale who is trying to accomplish something big or small in their lives.
Getting on a path that unfolds the way any of us hopes requires accountability, focus and consistency and not always in that order. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about making it through college or moving up in a corporation or raising happy, healthy children.
Jumping around from idea to idea or project to project only results in a confusing patchwork that makes it more difficult to tell what someone stands for, believes in or wants to do.
It confuses the one doing it just as much.
There are a lot of middle aged people who complain loudly and often that they have never been able to rise above a certain point to make their dreams come true.
Well, they need to take a look behind them at the wreckage in their wake. There are probably a lot of good ideas that were only half-baked and never got beyond a certain stage before they found a good reason to drift toward something else.
But, try sticking to an idea through thick or thin and asking for assistance when it really gets rough instead of throwing up your hands and then see what happens.
You might find that you don’t know everything but if you’re willing to listen and take a little advice you just might get really good at one thing.
(E-mail Martha Randolph Carr at: Martha@caglecartoons.com.)