Eleven Years Ago . . .

Sam,

Eleven years ago, I started writing seriously.

Eleven years ago, I was halfway through middle school, bolting to class early to savor those extra five minutes in my own world.

Eleven years ago, I didn’t have an agent.

Eleven years ago, I wasn’t published. . . .

. . . I’m still not. But you know what? I’m okay with that — sort of. As a wise friend of mine once told me: “I’ve only just started.” There’s a lot of time ahead of me to land that book deal. Among the many things I’ve learned in this first decade of writing, it’s not rush into things until they are ready to be shared.

As a matter of fact, whenever I lose focus — combatting writer’s block, between sets at the gym, or simply daydreaming — I let doubt in. I start to think of how far I still have to go to accomplish my ambition, instead of looking back and seeing how far I’ve come. I forget about the progress and obsess over the still unconquered. Ironic it may sound, but I permit the doubt. It’s happened before, the kind of second-guessing that might cripple some out of their creative endeavors. Therefore, I know I will come out of this terror of the inner critic. It’s all part of the cycle.

There cannot be hope and confidence without knowing doubt and insecurity.

This obsession with not being satisfied with what one has is, I think, the fatal flaw of the imperial mindset. As writers, we want to create a legacy, an empire of sorts, with our stories. We want to scrutinize the structure of the world and connect to readers via empathy. I think it’s important to want more, to want to live at our highest potential. But there must be restraint. The ambition should be tempered by pride of the now. Otherwise, we will never be happy. I think you can be happy with what you have while wanting to get better. That’s kind of the whole mindset of fitness — which for me is so closely linked to my artistic efforts. Training lets me literally see how much I’ve gained from years of muscle growth. My body is a walking testament to the fitness virtues: effort, patience, and tenacity. Thanks to past achievements seen in the present, I can imagine where I might be in the future should I continue my discipline. This ability to imagine a future of further growth reflects a trait that hasn’t changed in eleven years . . . really my whole life: my vision.

I pride myself with my imagination. After all, it is an artist’s greatest tool. You can have all the connections and resources in the world to get a book deal, but if you lack imagination, you lack creativity. If you lack creativity, you lack flexibility and a pensive mind. If you lack that, then you lack the vital link between author and reader: empathy. If you lack empathy, then you have no story worthy of being told. Instead, your lackluster tale will have the consistency of a smoothie left in the sun for too long, two-dimensional characters, and a headache reminiscent of too much CGI in a movie.

My vision, naturally, comes because of my imagination. I can imagine a future of success. I can anticipate failures, to the best of the powers at be, and arm myself with the knowledge that they will pass. I can imagine a world where I leave a legacy to benefit our civilization. Only it’s not enough to just imagine it. Grit must be acquired to brave the reality of the world outside to see imagination materialize. For the world of Muggles is as unforgiving as it is generous. So I must have a vision gilded by imagination and a mind with the fortitude to traverse the laws of reality. It’s going to be a profitable next decade of writing. I can see it now. . . .

Cheers.

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