Neglectful Excuses

Posted: October 7, 2013 by ajbrown in Uncategorized

Sometimes I’m neglectful. 

 No, not of my children or my wife or my job.  Those things get my attention before anything else does. 

 I’m often neglectful of the things that I want—not need.  I will earn money from the sell of a story and turn around and spend it on something for my children or something the house needs, but rarely on something I want.  I will go without something so my kids can have.  I feel my kids’ wants and needs are more important than my own.  I feel my wife’s wants and needs are more important as well.

 That’s not a bad thing and that’s just one reason I neglect the things I want.

 The second reason is I don’t feel worthy, and no, not in that Wayne’s World sort of way, but in a ‘do I really deserve this’ way.  Let me see if I can explain this in a way that might make sense:

 Failing is easy for me.  I’ve noticed more and more over the last year I have failed at a lot of things because, well, quite frankly, I’ve always felt that’s what I’m supposed to do.  I’m not going to get into the whys of that, but it’s something that I’ve dealt with my entire life.  Feeling like I’m supposed to fail, like I’m expected to fail drove me in some aspects of life.  In others, like where my desires come into play, it has done just the opposite.  It has caused me to think that I am trying my best, but in reality, I am doing just enough to fool myself, just enough to fail. 

 So, when your subliminal mindset is you are supposed to fail, what are you going to do?

 Fail.

 Do you know what makes this terribly sad?

 I’ve known this my entire life, but I didn’t realize this until earlier this year—a couple months ago, to be almost, but not entirely, exact. 

 Let’s see, so far we have I am neglectful because I want my children’s wants to be fulfilled be for my own, and because I expect to fail, therefore, I only try so hard, guaranteeing I would do just that.

 There is a third reason.

 Fear.

 I think I’ve always been afraid to succeed.  Yeah, crazy, right?  There are many people out there who feel the same way.  We make excuses, all the while feeling like we are doing everything we can to succeed. 

To quote Ebenezer Scrooge:  “Bah Humbug.”

 One of my bosses at work has a saying (one I have used with his permission in one of my stories):

 “FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real.”

 What is it you are afraid of?  Why are you afraid of it?  Is the evidence you have that causes you to be afraid based on something tangible, on a concrete reason?  Or is it all in your head?

 I can say my expectancy to fail helped cause a fear of success.  That’s just another excuse, though, isn’t it?

 Why be afraid of being successful?  Seriously?  Can someone give me a good, solid reason why anyone should be afraid to succeed?

 I always thought part of my problem was a fear, but not of success, but of failure.  I don’t feel that way any longer.  I’ve failed at too many things to be still be afraid.

 Stick with me a while longer.  I’ll explain a little more about the things I have neglected most in a moment.

 There is one more thing, and I think it is one of the biggest contributors to why I neglect certain things. 

 Confidence.  It takes a beating.  It takes a serious beating.

 I believe in myself.  I believe in my abilities.  I am a good writer.  If you don’t believe me, pick up one of my books and read it.  You’ll like it.  Where I lack the most confidence isn’t in my abilities, it’s in how others see those abilities.

 You see, confidence is a tricky thing.  All it takes is something negative or a series of negatives to throw you off, to make you question yourself.  And, if there is one thing about me that has always been susceptible it is my confidence, especially when it comes to my writing.

 Let me say this:  I have never been a person who cares about what others think of me.  If you like me, great.  If you don’t, your loss.  That has always been my philosophy.  I can’t think that way when it comes to writing. 

Why?

 It’s simple.  If you like me, then great.  If you don’t, then I’m not going to sell any books or have many publications for that matter.  I have to be concerned of what editors and publishers and other writers think of me, as well as what the readers think of my work. 

 In this respect, it’s hard not to take rejections personally, though they are not intended to be taken that way. 

 If you are a writer and you are reading this, here is some advice from Uncle A.J.:  Never EVER EVER EVER take a rejection personally.  Just because a story is rejected doesn’t mean you can’t write.  It just means that particular story was not a good fit for that particular publication.  The story might need some work, but suck it up and find out what’s wrong with the piece and fix it. 

 Okay, now that I have established four issues I have, I move on to the neglecting that I tend to do. 

 When my confidence gets rocked, I stop writing.  I stop blogging.  I stop promoting.  Let me put it another way.  I neglect my writing.  I neglect my blog.  I neglect my books on Amazon by not marketing them. I neglect one of the things in my life that I enjoy because I get down about something.  Rejections will do it.  This year I have subbed 38 stories, 32 of which have been rejected.  Six of them have been accepted, all but one a paying pub.  There were seven other shortlisted stories that eventually weren’t picked up.  A bad review will do it, though I’ve never received an actual bad review for my work.  A lack of reviews—that I know a little about.  Worse yet, a lack of sells.  Uh-huh, I’ve been there and done that.

 When my confidence takes a hit I fear people won’t like my work.  What evidence is that based on?  From what I’ve seen, read and heard from folks, it’s all false evidence appearing real. 

 When my confidence takes a hit and I start thinking people will not like my work, my mind tells me all I am doing is wasting my time.  I’m just going to fail anyway.  Who wants to fail?  So, why try?

 Let me say this:  If you are afraid of failing and you don’t even try, or you give a half-hearted effort, guess what?  You’ve failed.  Effort is everything to success.  Without effort, most people are doomed to fail. 

 Three of the four things that cause me to be neglectful of the things I want are related to my writing.  The other one is putting my family before myself, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  But it’s those three things that cause me the most grief when it comes to writing.

 Failure.  Fear.  Confidence.

 Those three things have caused me to neglect my writing, submitting, marketing and, yes, Type AJ Negative.  This blog, in particular, has sat dormant for months.  It has gathered cobwebs in its little corner of the…hehehe…web, so to speak. 

 Answer me something:

 How do I expect folks to find out about my work/publications if I don’t let them know?  How do I expect people to learn more about my life if I don’t let them know?  How do I expect my books to sell, if I don’t let people know?  How am I supposed to grow my ‘brand’ or popularity if I don’t aggressively pursue that growth?  It’s not going to happen on its own.

 I thought several times about writing blogs again, only to have that negative side tap me on the shoulder and say, ‘hey, nobody will care.’  I have listened to that fool for far too long.

 Here’s the thing:  If no one out there cares, then so be it, but how will I know if I don’t actually TRY to find out, if I don’t actually market my work and myself?

 For the record, I’m a damn good writer.  I don’t write like everyone else, and I’m happy and proud of that.  I enjoy writing, and I want you all out there to enjoy what I have written.  

 Here’s another thing:  My books have had a slight up tick in sells, the reviews are good, my series, Dredging Up Memories, has received lots of positive feedback, the sells I have made this year have all been either semi-pro or pro paying, I won two contest this year. 

 Though the successes have been few, they have been good when they happen.  Those are the things my psyche needs to concentrate on.

 If the Rock was the People’s Champion, then I want to be the People’s Writer.  I’m not technically sound—I don’t want to be.  I want to write stories that folks can relate to and enjoy. 

 I reckon that means no more excuses.  There is no more reasons to not jump in whole heartedly now. 

 Am I ready for this?  Truthfully, I don’t know.  But I’ll never know if I don’t actually really, honestly try.  I guess I’ll find out.

 Thank you for reading.  Thank you for tagging along, and not giving up on me.

 Until we meet again, my friends…

 

 

 

 

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Comments
  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the insight. Dare I say, it is inspirational….I have your books and I follow Hank Walker. I think you are a good writer, not trying to blow smoke anywhere, but that is how I came to this page. By following your work. So I read this post, (and a few others) and I am left with questions. Always with the questions…..? I understand we live in a busy world, so I’ll ask just the one, but watch out, it’s a doozy. How does a person know if they can be a writer, a good writer? Pretty opened ended I know, but I think there may be a few people who read this post who will be wondering if they are good enough to call themselves a writer. Cheers

    • A.J. Brown says:

      Wow, that is an open ended question, but it is a great one. Let me say this, when I first started writing, an editor trashed me–me, not the writing of a story. I never forgot that. I almost threw in the towel then. Instead, for several years I used it as motivation to prove that editor wrong. But that can only go so far.

      Stephen King said in his book ‘On Writing’ that the writer is the first reader. I believe that sincerely. If I enjoy writing the story, what are the chances that readers are going to enjoy it? If I have to work at getting the story out, those are the ones that the readers will have to work at reading–those are the one I know need to stay hidden away from the public. You are the first reader of every story you write. You have to enjoy the ride you go along on when you tell a story. If you don’t enjoy it, your readers probably won’t either.

      For me, I choose not to be like every one else. I enjoy writing, but I don’t care much for stories with only action and no build up of characters or scenery, so I don’t write that way. I like stories that slow boil until it reaches the ending, of course with action and characters and emotions and scenery. I write what I want to read. I write for me, mostly. Being the first reader of my own work, I want to enjoy it.

      I honestly don’t know what constitutes a great writer. I think–think, mind you–that when you start hearing more positives than negatives about your work (and this is from folks outside of your family and friends) then you are heading in the right direction. One thing I will say, though, is never give up if it is something you are passionate about. Don’t let the negatives outweigh the positives–and keep writing. No one ever gets better by not practicing.

      One other thing. Thank you for your comment. It was nice to see that someone enjoys my work, especially the story of Hank Walker and Humphrey, who are two of my favorite characters. I wish you would have left your name so I could thank you by name.

      A.J.

      • A.J. Brown says:

        I’d like to add one more thing: A writer is only as good as the readers believe he/she is. A writer only has so much control over the business. The readers are what make the writers popular. Think about it. Stephanie Meyer is not a good writer, but she has sold millions of books and had movies made of her Twilight Series.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks AJ.

    I really must get that Stephen King book!

    I think I will give it a proper go. Not chuck in my job and re-mortgage the house type of go but I think I can at least try getting some of my work edited – by a paid proffessional – and then see about maybe getting it published/self published to an agent – something. Going to give it a red hot crack anways….

    I think there are alot of people out there like me. I like to write and I like what I write, so do my family and friends but they are all biased. So I worry that my work is not actually any good. Sure, you can send it off to a proffessional to critique it – they will ask for money – but that money could be spent on my kids and wife. I dont want to be that selfish bastard that wasted money on a pipe dream. But even if you do pay someone, how do you know the proffessionals arent just telling you what you want to hear, ‘Good story but could do with some proffessional editing – that’ll be another $$$’?

    Only one way to find out I guess.

    The writing world certainly is harsh. I have read what I THINK is fantastic writing in some wierd unknown places and I am left wondering – how is this person not more famous than Stephanie Meyer? Then come the doubts again…..if this person isnt making it, how will I?

    I will admit to never going to any writing conferances, never taken a course and have no more than a high school education, in short – I know very little about writing but, pretty important but for me, I think my wirintg is better for it – I apporach it like i think writing should be approached – LIKE ART.

    Sounds a bit wanky I know, and it’s hard of me to think of myself as an artist, I think of you as an artist – a cleverly constructing, detail weaving artist. Saw a thing in Game of Thrones. Think the characters name is Sam. He is explaining some historic details to a young girl who cant read. She looks upon him with wonder and asks – you know all that by looking upon scribbles on a paper? (or something like that) You are a wizard she says…….

    I want to be a wizard! There I said it. Only one way to find out if I can be I guess – and that is to give it a go.

    I have to thank you for your time – I appreciate it. The circles I travel in dont have any writers, publishers, editors in them. It is good to get advice from someone who knows.

    One more thing, there are two reasons why I didnt leave my name.

    Firstly – I was writing on a tablet – the buttons are tiny.

    Secondly – I do feel a bit stalkerish, followed you on TOWWZ, bought your books, facebooked you and then followed you here – alot stalkerish…? But as a person who wants to be a writer (and a wizard one at that) I really wanted to ask these types of questions of someone who has been there done that.

    Cheers again – I appreciate it, Justin Dunne.

  3. A.J. Brown says:

    Stalker? Interesting. I’ve never had a writer/stalker thing before.

    You seem like you have an idea of what you want out of writing. To that I say, go after it. You may get a little more help along the way than you think.

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