Sometimes a Rainbow is Better than a Pot of Gold

 

Rainbow

I wanted to share something positive with my readers & fellow authors today, something which has touched me in such a profound way as a writer I think it bears repeating. As I am quickly learning, Pete has become a major inspiration in my life since reading his new book, THE MOMENTS THAT MAKE US. This book has spoken to me on so many different levels, but none so much as Chapter Fourteen.

 

TMTMU

 

There is no way I can possibly do this book, Pete, or the message behind the book justice, but if you will indulge me, I’d like to share a few passages from Pete’s book which has spoken the loudest to me. I hate to butcher the book and the message like this, but to understand the point of my post, I feel I must post a few excerpt paragraphs, even though I think the message does not come out as clear as it does when reading the entire chapter, or book, for that matter. I would like to point out this is not the entirety of the paragraphs, just small excerpts that have made the most impact on me.

 

“…..The music of the era was powerful. I was sold on the energy and the sound. But Poison was different. While they made the trek to Hollywood to make it, they weren’t from the West Coast or some big city. Those guys were from a small town in Pennsylvania – just one state away from Virginia. Maybe that’s why I could relate…..

Cry Tough” had struck such a nerve with me that I begged Todd to let me take the tape home that night. He agreed, and I played that tape over and over again. Suddenly, the second verse came screaming out at me.

Life ain’t no easy ride,
At least that’s what I’m told.
But sometimes a rainbow baby
Is better than a pot of gold.*

 And there it was. The single most defining lyric of my life, to this very day….

“Cry Tough” gave me validation to be poor, to struggle, to not make it. It gave me permission to chase my dreams at all cost…..”

 

I struggle on a daily basis with being a writer. Mostly, it’s guilt, a feeling of inadequateness with a good, strong dash of jealousy added into the mix. I’ve got to the point where I avoid FB like the plague because it stresses me out to see all the posts by fellow authors of new releases coming out, the author events, the launch parties, etc.

No matter what I’m doing, I always feel guilty when I’m not writing. Never mind I have a full time job, a husband, kids, and a house to tend to. I know I have 900 different things that require my attention any day of the week, I know my regular job requires long hours and lots of stress that I had not bargained for, but I still feel guilty when I’m not writing.

I know there is no way for me to push out a new novel every month or two, and if I did manage it, it would be utter crap and I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to put my name on it because I’m such a bleeding heart artist I refuse to put out anything I’m not 100% sure is the absolute best work -I- can produce.

Mentally I KNOW these things, know I’m doing good to get a single book out each year, but I still can’t help but feel I should be doing more. I’m probably harder on myself than anyone else could ever be, know there is really no reason for me to feel guilty about the lack of time I have to write when I have so many other things I can’t put off which require my immediate attention, but yet here I sit, reminding myself I have 2 unfinished novels I need to be writing even though I have 2 closets that need to be cleaned out before school starts in a few days. Even though I know in the back of my mind that my department would probably crash and burn if I were ever to resign from my position, I still can’t help but look at my complete lack of success at both my regular job and my writing career and feel like I am a complete failure.

What, exactly, have I accomplished in the last twenty-two years of my life?

A few weeks ago I bought Pete’s book and read it during my lunch hours while at work. I’ve laughed, I’ve been brought to tears, I even saw red and wanted to psycho-momma on a certain unnamed teacher. But Chapter 14, aptly titled “Sometimes a Rainbow is Better than a Pot of Gold,” was the wake-up call I truly needed as a writer.

I know most of us writers push ourselves too hard. We try to keep up with everyone else, strive to make a name for ourselves and are out there doing all this on our own. We have chosen to go indie despite the massive amount of time involved, the over-saturation of the market, and the all-consuming work which never seems to end. We are so busy trying to obtain some far-off goal where we can finally say “I made it as a writer!” we forget —sometimes a rainbow is better than a pot of gold.—

I want everyone to sit and really think about that for a second. For me, the pot of gold would be a massive contract with a large advancement where I could quit my job and write full time and become a major bestseller, or better yet, the ultimate goal would be a multi-million dollar movie deal. But I also know getting that type of deal would come with deadlines, huge responsibilities, and more pressure than what I am currently under.

Right now, I AM living in my rainbow. I have a great job, granted some days I loathe it and want to smack half the company, and I am certainly underpaid for the amount of work and total crap I have to deal with, but all-in-all, I can’t complain. When I have fellow coworkers and managers tell me quietly how much my VP thinks of everything I accomplish at my job, I know I am needed, even if I’m not really appreciated. It’s not exactly glamorous but I’m good at it, and I’m also lucky to have it.

I often say I have the best of both worlds. I have a job which keeps a roof over our heads, with time spent away NOT thinking about books, and I also have this wonderful passion for creating stories which I am able to share with people thanks to Amazon and social media. But I think the simple fact sometimes a rainbow is better than a pot of gold gets lost on all of us. We are so busy chasing our dreams we forget to stop and appreciate what we have already accomplished. I’m not saying I wouldn’t jump at the chance to write full time, or work on a movie project, or any number of other projects, but I also am very proud of the seven books I’ve managed to publish in the past four years. It’s not exactly the dream career I wanted for myself, but it certainly is no small feat.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, take the time to appreciate the small things you have accomplished. Live inside your rainbow and be happy to have it. Don’t ever stop chasing your dreams, but don’t forget to savor the ride. I never set out to be Anne Rice, and I think it’s time I stopped comparing my success to the success of others.

I have always looked to Bret as my mentor, for giving me the drive to keep writing and chasing my dreams no matter what life has thrown at me. In the past year, I have become an avid Black Veil Brides fan who both admires the hard work and dedication they have to their music and their fans, as well as strive to remember they didn’t just have all of their good fortune handed to them. They worked hard to get it, and so I must too.

Today, I came across another man who has also worked hard to earn what he has accomplished, and I am happy to add Pete Evick to my short list of mentors. Today, I am not just striving to keep chasing my dreams like Bret, but I am also striving to be more like Pete, and learn to be happy and appreciative of the rainbow I have, because right now my rainbow IS better than a pot of gold.

So thank you, Pete, for being a totally awesome guy, and for sharing your words of wisdom and self-discovery with your fans. I can’t say enough about how wonderful and inspiring this book has been to me. And if I’ve went so far off base on the message your words were trying to convey, please forgive me!

 

 

*Cry Tough – words and music by Bret Michaels, Bobby Dall, Bruce Johannesson, and Rikki Rockett. All copyrights to their original creators where applicable.

Artistic Struggles: Today, Tomorrow, Always

oak tree with sunlight

It is a struggle. Each and every day, each word put to the page, each post to social media, each Tweet poised to entice a reader into giving me just the smallest of chances, it is all a struggle.

There are some days, like today, when I have so much self-doubt and self-loathing with my writing career it is all I can do to not throw in the towel. Each time I check my dismal Amazon ranking and see the lack of responses to my FB status, see I have lost a few more Twitter followers, makes me question why I even bother to continue on this road. It gets harder and harder with each passing day, with each book written, with each new idea, to want to stay with this journey. Being a writer, an author, is not easy, and it does not grow easier with time. In fact, it does not become easier with more success, but it certainly becomes more depressing with the lack of success.

I’ve had more than my fair share of doubting moments in the past year, much less my lifetime. I’ve had days when I was tired and weary and just plain sick of trying to drudge out my own niche in the writing world. I was tired of pouring years of my life into a project I truly believed in, only to see it shoved to the side by so many. Writing was quickly becoming something I no longer enjoyed, but instead had become a daily reminder of just how unsuccessful I really am, not only in my writing career, but also in my working Evil Day Job, and my life in general. I could handle not being successful in one or two of those avenues, but not all three, not all at once, and certainly not for so long a period of time. It was becoming suffocating, to the point where I couldn’t stand to look at my computer when I came in from work, could no longer force myself to write, or do any type of graphic art work or even post to my social media accounts. I languished in this suspended state, unsure of myself, my talents, petrified by my lack of tangible success.

Today, it all came crashing down around me again. As I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, I was bombarded with more fan artwork from one of favorite bands. One of the reasons I follow Chris is because I love seeing him retweet messages from the fans and their awesome artwork. In all honesty, I would have to say Black Veil Brides has some of the most talented fans in the world. Today, as I sat admiring some of this work, the artistic side of my life suddenly gave way, the delicate glass house I had built around myself in an effort to protect my fragile ego exploding with enough force to send those glass shards slicing and dicing their way straight into my heart.

I have never claimed to be a good writer. In fact, I will be the first person to tell you I suck, that I butcher the English language. I don’t write because I think I’m good, I write because it’s more like a force of nature, an irresistible power which drives me to keep writing even when the odds are stacked against me. As much as I hate it, writing is the closest thing to a natural God-given talent that I possess. Today, while scrolling through Chris’ Twitter feed, the realization hit me hard, even that one talent, the one thing I had been so very proud of, I wasn’t even really good at. I like to play around with photography and do graphic art work and create book covers for both myself and for others, but I’m not any better at doing that than I am singing or playing a musical instrument. I may “like” to do these things, but I’m certainly not good at it.

So where does that leave me? What does this mean? Who am I if I’m not an artist? I’m naturally a very creative person, I like to always be creating things, whether it be beading bracelets or working on book teasers or attempting to get more work done on yet another book, I feel compelled to create something, anything, and when I’m not creating I have to immerse myself in something creative like music or a good book or a museum. It’s what fuels the other part of my soul, the part forced to be put to the side for twelve hours a day as I sit in a small, windowless cubicle putting together sales reports and fixing other peoples’ fuck ups at work. It’s what I consider the “real” me, the part I have to keep hidden from the world at large while I go about the everyday necessities of working my Evil Day Job and taking care of the house and doing all the mundane things which must be completed each and every day.

But if I’m not good at doing any of these things, if it’s no longer satisfying and I feel I’m not getting anywhere professionally with my writing career or anything else in my life, exactly where does that leave me? Does this mean I’m as big of a failure as I think I am? Has my entire life been a lie??? If I’m not Nicola, the writer and artist, then that just leaves plain, old Brandey, someone I have not liked for a very, very long time.

Then, out of the blue, like a sign from above, just like it always does, the message came to me when I least expected it, but when I needed it the most.

I was scrolling through my morning email stream at work and came across a post in one of the many publishing groups I am a member of on LinkedIn. I don’t remember who wrote it or even what the point of the post was supposed to be about. What I DO remember is the message was meant for me, a message I really needed this morning.

Writers, truly any artist, must be strong, and we must be steadfast in our pursuits of success. It is no easy journey, it does not happen overnight, and we must be ready, willing, and able to take on all the setbacks which will inevitably be thrust upon us. We are like the mighty oak tree standing tall against all odds, weathering the storm regardless of how hard the rain pelts us or how shrilly the wind howls. Our ideas are like the acorns dotting our branches, each one with the potential to grow into another mighty oak tree if given the right encouragement.

For you see, much like it takes time and nurturing for the tiny little acorn to sprout, mature, and grow into the tall oak tree, it takes time to create and nurture those ideas into a completed work. Each word put to paper, each rewrite, each round of edits brings us one step closer to completing our project until finally, one day, all our hard work comes to fruition and we hold in our hand the realization of all those long hours of agony as we toiled away, struggling to grow our ideas into something we could be proud of.

Success in any part of life is not a sprint, but a marathon we spend half our lives preparing for and the other half just trying to get our foot in the door. Being an artist of any kind is no different. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Those artists who seem to come out of nowhere and are on the top of the world spent years as nobodies honing their respective crafts, begging people to just give them a chance, countless hours spent laboring over every small detail until they finally had a finished product they could be proud of, and then they did it all over again, time after time, year after year, one foot in front of the other, until the day came someone not only took notice of them, but helped spread the word, and soon that “nobody” became a household name. It didn’t happen overnight, but then again, the industry rarely tells anything about all those years spent slaving away just trying to get our names out there.

Success isn’t something measurable by how much money you make or how many people know your name or even by how many projects you have completed. Success is something only you, the artist, can accurately measure within yourself. We spend so much time waiting for “the day” when we can finally say “I made it! This is what I’ve been working towards!” we forget to enjoy the small successes we accomplish each and every day. We so often forget to slow down and just enjoy the ride. We stress and worry no one will like our final product or we aren’t “good enough” yet to even try to put ourselves and our work out there. We forget to enjoy the learning process.

It doesn’t matter where you are in your life cycle, whether you are the tiny little acorn sprout struggling to break free of your shell or the mighty oak tree trying to nurture all your budding little acorns into other mighty oak trees. The point is we ALL have the potential to be so much more tomorrow than we are today. THAT is the real measure of success, to enjoy the ride, never take it for granted, and always, always strive to make today count, to look forward to tomorrow, to never stop believing in ourselves or in our ability to one day grow into an even mightier oak tree than we are today. Because even when we are gone, our legacy will remain, and even if that legacy is nothing but a tiny little acorn hidden away beneath the fertile soil, it has the potential to become the mightiest oak tree of them all, spreading our legacy far and wide to nurture those who will never forget we existed, that we were once where they are at, and we kept going, we prevailed against all odds, and we helped inspire another little acorn to reach for the stars.