Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

 Amazon Breakthrough Novel AwardOk, I admit I’m feeling a little disappointed that The Boy Who Shot Santa did not advance to the Quarter Finals of Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards.  I thought I would even make it to the semi-finals on the strength of the whole novel, knowing how much effort I had point into this and all the rewriting I did in the months leading up to it.  But it didn’t, so that’s a step back for me, a time to re-access….For those who did get through, congrats!  For those who didn’t, or didn’t even get this far, or are struggling to make their writing or their lives more successful, then this is for you (and a reminder for me).

In 2009, I was at T. Harv Eker’s Guerrilla Business Intensive seminar in Singapore eating lunch with four other people I just met, some from Singapore, Canada, Australia, and myself the lone American.  All five of us looked relatively successful judging from our clothes, our appearances, and the fact that we shelled out a considerable amount of money for this five-day event in Singapore, most of us travelling just to get here, from Kuching, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong.  There was a pause in the meal and I caught their attention by asking a simple question, “What personal adversity did you have to overcome that led you on the road to success?”

I went first to set the tone and talked about my divorce and custody battle and a lot of fallout that transpired during that rather difficult time in my life. Another couple took turns discussing their own marital breakups, a business going bust, dealing with bouts of depression, one on the verge of suicide.  A woman then broke down and cried as she related how she was assaulted and battered by a boyfriend and ended up in the hospital.  Even now she is struggling with trust and intimacy issues in her relationships. 

Another, the son of a multi-millionaire, admitted that he had gone to prison because of excessive driving violations.  Singapore is rather tough in this area.  One of those violations wasn’t even his.  He was covering for his now ex-wife during a traffic accident, claiming he was driving when she was (and drunk at the time), so she wouldn’t accumulate excessive violations herself. He lost his driver’s license, and then with less than a week to go, he got caught driving without a license, and because of those additional points, he now had to spend two weeks in prison. 

Later, I spoke to his father and he said it was an important lesson for his strong-headed son.  He had advised him not to drive without his license and not to marry that woman in the first place; she was trouble and was always getting him into trouble.  Since their divorce, he had turned his life around and has his whole future ahead of him.

All of five of us had reached rock bottom in our lives, and the point that I wanted to make by posing the question in the first place, was that, despite those setbacks, or maybe even because of them, because we had been through all that—the shame, the indignity, the frustrations—we were determined to make a success out of our lives.  To turn it all around, which each of us gradually did, and found ourselves at the same place having lunch together during a break at this seminar in Singapore.

What personal adversity have you gone through that has in fact made you stronger, more determined to succeed?  Are you looking back, focusing on what all went wrong and blaming everyone else, or are you looking ahead to what you can still make right?  In life, we’re going to have our setbacks, our disappointments—some major, some minor—but it’s how we pick ourselves afterward that matters.  Life is often a series of two steps forward, one step back.  Learn from those ‘steps back’ and apply that knowledge for your next two steps forward.  So long as, at the end of the day, you’re determined to keep moving forward, that’s all that matters.  Just take all of your setbacks in stride and keep focusing on your goals.

That's exactly what I'm doing right now, itching to get back to another novel for another contest and considering other routes to publication to add to the three books I have in the marketplace and a fourth, a translation, on the way. The rules to publishing has changed drastically in the last two years (e-publishing is taking off and bookstores are closing) and it's time to explore these options for my next two steps forward.  

*Here's a link, to another writer who just broke out in a major deal.  

*Update: The Resurrection of Jonathan Brady just made Round Two 2012, so far (I included the pitch.)
**Update: The Resurrection of Jonathan Brady just advanced to the Quarterfinals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2012!

***Here the link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.

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