The Tao of Success, Part 3; Patience

The mulberry tree grows and upon it grows the mulberry leaf. The mulberry leaf is consumed by the silkworm. The silkworm then spins silk. “With time and patience, the mulberry leaf becomes satin. With time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.”

Does this process sound familiar to you? Is it not an analogous reference to the whole process of writing from thought to book, to the distribution of that book to others for consumption? If so, is patience not a necessary and vital part of the process?

I see so many writers out there who look for instantaneous gratification and an immediate fulfillment of their expectations and definitions of success. Who among us would not like to put a book out there on a distributor or a major venue such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble and wake up the next morning and see five hundred, a thousand, maybe five thousand sales? Is that realistic? Is it truly a sign of success? Do you want your flame to glow oh so brightly and intensely for a short period of time or would you prefer to start a slow, ever-growing burn based on the deep-heated coals of doing what your passion requires you to do?

Unless you have a budget that allows you to blanket the Internet and other forms of media with advertising you are probably not going to see instant success in the sales of your books. I believe that the release of your work, whatever it may be, is rather like planting a seed in the garden. If you run out and check the spot where you planted it every day from the first you will be disappointed for many days. You will, in fact, being doing an awful lot of staring at a seemingly inanimate lump of dirt. Yet if you water that lump, feed that lump, make sure that lump is located in sunlight, you do not have an inanimate lump of dirt. Underneath the surface everything you did is now interacting with each other to produce what you are waiting for. The seed is there, the soil is there giving the seed nutrients and a good environment, the water is there, the sunlight is there to warm and activate the lump.

One day, weeks from now, you walk outside and there, protruding from that lump of dirt is a stout, vibrant green seedling reaching for the sky. The fruit of your work is now evident and yet it took such a long time and all that preparatory work. While standing there gazing at the fruit of your labors, you realize in that instant; it was all worth it.

Should we not view our writing in a similar manner? I think we should remember if it took a lot of effort to get the book from being a thought, onto paper (or computer), edited, polished, designed, formatted, submitted, distributed, promoted, we should also remember the results will not be any faster than the process. “Consider the hour-glass; there is nothing to be accomplished by rattling or shaking; you have to wait patiently until the sand, grain by grain, has run from one funnel into the other.” John Christian Morgenstern

The next time you are sitting there griping and moaning about what is not happening out there in regard to your sales, perhaps you should take a moment instead to say ‘thank you’. Be grateful that you are able to do this. As little as ten years ago little or none of this was available to the unpublished, unknown author. We were at the mercy of agents and publishers who, on the whim of the day, summarily struck down our pittance, often without bothering to read a single word of the book.

Today it does not matter what you write, how much you write, what genre it is in or even if you can write well. Anyone can publish a book, anywhere, anytime. Say ‘thank you’, not ‘where’s my damn sales?’. Be grateful that we can do this. It is as though we were once living in a dilapidated Brownstone apartment in New York and now we live on a rich farm in Georgia. We can grow anything we want. So get out there and dig, get out there and plant, get out there and water and feed. Just don’t look for corn and tomatoes tomorrow.

“Someone has defined genius as intensity of purpose: the ability to do, the patience to wait… Put these together and you have genius, and you have achievement.” Leo J. Muir

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About Ethan Holmes

Ethan Holmes currently resides in Northern Arizona and he is the author of seven published books; Earth's Blood, The Keystone, A Multi-Pack of Brain Flakes, Shorts and Other Laundry, Live Your Life In A Crap Free Zone, Water. and his new novella, The Town of Perfect. When he is not writing Ethan is also a professional freelance nature photographer.
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