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No, not like the Marvel Universe

Just after writing Earth Day, I had an idea (more of an epiphany, really), which — on reflection — should have given me more pause for thought, but didn’t.

I made the decision to create my own universe, or more specifically, a continuum.

“What, like the Marvel Universe?” Christy suggested.

Not quite, no. But then again, yes. I don’t pay too much attention — if any at all — to what other people are doing, as I have my own ideas.

In my universe, every novella and novel is part of a constellation of stories, each connecting with another in some way, be it a character, a technology, an event, a business, a location, or an idea.

“They won’t really care.” Christy reasoned. “The readers, I mean.”

She had a point.

“I write for myself.” I said.

Yes, I am a selfish author.

It’s the creation of these nebulous connections, and the challenge of ensuring every story is a part of the same continuum that motivates me as much as anything.

However, it does impose certain rules; certain ideas I have are out of bounds, since they do not fit within the scope of the continuum.

You’d think that there’d be plenty of room in an entire universe. No, certain genres just don’t fit.

I have made a commitment, which I intend remaining true to, come what may.

Is it okay to be a selfish writer?

Someone asked whether it was the allure of wealth or fame that compelled their fellow writers. Of course, I had my own thoughts on this.

If you look at it from an external perspective — through the lens of the imaginary reader, often not anything like the real reader — it quickly becomes a series of no-win scenarios that would make even the head of John Nash spin.

So you’re writing for yourself? How vein. Are you writing to entertain? How presumptuous. What, you write to be famous? You are such an egotist. Or, are you writing in the hope that you become wealthy? How selfish.

Personally, I don’t concern myself with what people think in so far as what my reasons for writing might be. In truth, I write for all of the aforementioned reasons. But if, as a writer, you are bothered what other people think, be humble and write for respect, though I suspect that might limit your imagination.

You can’t please everyone, but it’s often easier to please yourself.

So you’re an author. And?

Just in case anyone was wondering why their talents aren’t attracting the successes they imagined. It’s a topic I’ve often considered myself, and I had a theory, which in the last few years I’ve managed to validate.

In essence, success — be it financial, commercial, or fame, or a rich mixture of the three combined — relies on three things:

  1. an array of influential family, friends, and colleagues;
  2. extreme good fortune, or at least the ability to act upon fortuitousness moments, and;
  3. talent.

No, talent alone really isn’t going to cut it, I’m afraid. How do I know this? I’m a business owner of some thirteen years, and I have a propensity to observe. What successes I’ve had are wrought from many years of hard work, mostly not in the glare but the shadow of friends and fortune.

And if I were to have presented the aforementioned three ingredients proportionally, the third would be visualised as some tiny speck, while first and second would have planetary proportions.

Ah, the one-hit-wonder

Consider the endless succession of one-hit-wonders in art, literature, and business. Clearly they had little talent, or they would have enjoyed more than one hit, surely? But since they’re no longer around, we can assume — with some degree of latitude —that they didn’t have the necessary talent to ride the initial wave and keep their success going.

The amount of times I’ve read some autobiographical comment by some previously lionised entrepreneur, singer, writer — whatever or whoever — discussing their ascension to success, only for them to just drop in the fact that some relative or friend or colleague happened to mention what they were doing to someone of an unparalleled and unrivalled connection to the very thing that would thrust them forward like a rocket sled.

Know thyself!

Most of the time, these people don’t even realise the deeply serendipitous nature of their success, or how that without both friends and / or chance, they would be toiling away to this day, just like the rest of us.

Talent take-away

So what can we learn from this?

  1. Firstly, don’t allow the reality of your predicament to undermine your faith.
  2. Surround yourself with influential people and be useful to them in some way without being sycophant.
  3. Adopt a mercenary attitude towards chance and be both predatory and opportunistic.

Anything else and you really are leaving your fortunes (such that they are) to chance.