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“Again and again I therefore admonish my students in Europe and America: Don’t aim at success — the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.” (Victor Frankl)

Very interesting, Mr. Frankl.  Are you suggesting that I ought to just focus on writing for writing’s sake, rather than aiming at publication?  That I write what is important to me, rather than what I think will sell?  Are you reminding me that even when I feel discouraged by the publishing climate and my own lack of talent and skill, that I continue writing anyway, because it is a cause greater than myself?

Timely words.  I am in the middle of reading Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie.  Picking up this book was a mistake: if I could be reborn as the writer I always wanted to be, I’d write like Sherman Alexie.  Talk about a cause bigger than yourself, and the talent and skill with which to embrace it.  I am humbled and a little flattened, my own work looking small and insignificant in comparison.  What am I doing, after all?  At best, Remember aka Filling in the Blanks is entertaining.  It doesn’t deal with all the pain and suffering in the world, it doesn’t address social ills, it’s not about anything important. 

And so I ask myself – why am I spending so much of myself on this book?  There are other books I could be working on, maybe books with more purpose and meaning.   I could spend more time with my family, or on housekeeping chores, or simply reading other good books.

I am not capable of walking away from a manuscript incomplete, unfinished.  For good or ill, I serve the Writing God, who is truly a jealous god, and holds me to a certain standard of conduct.  Any piece of writing, once I truly engage with it, must be completed to the best of my ability.  Will success ensue when this manuscript is revised once again, and sent back out to seek its fortune in the publishing world?  I doubt it.

It doesn’t matter.  The story came to me, I accepted the challenge, I committed to the writing.  So here I am, revising away, even though it often seems pointless.  Finishing what I started for no better reason than because I started it.  And holding to a faith that somehow, this will have to be enough.


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