For all the news of national economic strength, in the book industry, times are tough pretty much all over. I've heard a lot about this in the last two weeks, and since it's royalty statement time, likely will for the next few weeks.
Authors can't be expected not to express their concerns when fiscal times are challenging. Discussion and venting is both healthy for solutions and de-stressing. And many, many authors currently have need for both.
That said, there are two vital things to keep in mind:
1. Bitching never solved a challenge. Seeking constructive solutions has solved many. So it's critical to careers, not to mention to mental and emotional health, to keep the focus tight. Look at the problem as objectively and honestly as possible, but focus on the solution.
2. Vent, yes, but then let it go. Holding onto the complaints, reiterating them endlessly feeds them endless energy. That makes the complaints stronger and robs you of time and energy spent doing something that can actually change your position or condition. Your health will suffer. You will suffer. And nothing will change.
Change, flexibility, and sometimes patience are essential to manifest those things we choose to have in our lives. Authors aren't known for patience, which is a blessing since they don't have a supervisor on their shoulder nudging them to work and require self-discipline, but the wisest ones accept that patience is as essential as drive.
And so we're reminded that seasons come and go and so do life cycles. Sometimes our careers and lives run smoothly, sometimes they don't. Yet perspective is always a great balancing scale. When things are going well in our lives, it's easy to remember that. It's when they're not, and we need to remember most, that it's difficult.
When life's beating up on you, sometimes you just run out of faith. It's not faith in a person or in God that I'm talking about. It's that unshakable certainty at core-level that things will work out exactly as they're meant to and whatever that way is, it is definitely for your greater good. Maybe not painless or without sacrifice, but in terms of your own personal big picture, exactly as they should work out. That certainty that carries us through the rough times with our sanity intact.
When that certainty goes AWOL and faith is crushed under the weight of burdens, we're at the place where we can reap the greatest benefit (to ourselves and others) from perspective. It's hard for us to see or think beyond our troubles then, but with a paradox-type of twist, if we manage it, we gain exactly what we need.
So for those of you trapped in this hellish place, let me share a couple snapshots that will hopefully give you a perspective fix.
Do keep in mind that some bad days don't last 24 hours. They last years, or months, or in this specific case, four weeks.
To be REALLY clear: The list that follows are NOT things that have happened to me in the last four weeks. BUT these are all things unfortunately that have happened to someone with whom I've had contact in the last four weeks.
A childhood playmate is diagnosed with a brain tumor. He's given 4-6 weeks to live.
A child is arrested for sitting his wife down in the grass and is divorcing her.
A complicated, experimental surgery is undergone.
A death of a beloved relative in the extended family.
A second-mother has a risky back surgery with high odds of paralysis.
The arrested child announces he and his wife are pregnant.
The childhood playmate dies 2 weeks after diagnosis. His daughter refused his dying wish to see her.
The second mother's daughter must have an immediate hysterectomy.
A child reveals she hates her father--and he's worked hard to ensure she does hate him.
The childhood playmate's ex inherits all. His will wasn't up to date. His new wife and child are penniless and now homeless.
A 2nd more complicated surgery with life-threatening implications is had.
A woman who took a chance and bought a house is laid off and now losing that house and her life's savings.
An unexpected death of a 3rd beloved relative in the extended family.
A daughter's pregnancy has serious complications.
A brother soaks his mother for over a million, leaving her nearly broke.
A husband drops dead on the kitchen floor in the middle of a telephone dispute with an auto mechanic.
A woman is betrayed by friends who've acted deliberately to keep her and the man in her life apart.
An expectant father is extremely ill and hits the ER for the 4th time and what's wrong is still unknown.
A 2nd long-term friend is diagnosed terminal and has lost motor function.
A child is being berated by her grandmother--and unjustly accused of "crimes" she didn't commit.
Sixteen year old runs for safety from an abusive stepfather and is raped.
A wife comes home from work to find her house empty. Bank account closed. All assets gone--with her husband.
A child is diagnosed with MS.
Stress causes too rapid a heartbeat and after 6 hours, permanent damage is done. The heart stops, and was restarted.
A child is on drugs and attempts suicide.
Sales are down on royalty statements.
I could add more situations--there have been at least twice this many in the last four weeks--but there's no need to use a sledge when a framing hammer will do. Now, you read the list. You tell me which item is the least significant.
It might not be the solution, but it sure clears the mind so it can seek one.