I’ve heard this repeatedly: getting published will not change a damn thing in you.
That is a blatant lie. I knew it was a lie when I heard it, because it always struck a wrong chord within my bullshit detector. But until today, when I had a little epiphany, I didn’t understand why I never believed it.
I used to think, bitterly, “How can they, the published authors with agents, say that getting published doesn’t change you? It changes the very basic DNA of you! These people are, quite literally, ‘living the dream.’ I have been chasing this dream, and they are living it, and are now shitting upon that dream by saying its no big deal! This success (as I then defined it) is wasted on them. Wasted!”
But I think I figured it out, at least partially. When published writers say that getting a good agent and then getting published doesn’t change you, that they still feel ordinary, they’re looking at getting published as the end. This was their destination, and then they reached it, yet somehow the view from the top looks exactly like the view from the bottom.
But for me, as I have redefined success, getting published with the help of a good agent is beginning of the journey. You are, indeed, at the top of a mountain, but the problem is that once somewhat successful, you are surrounded by taller and craggier mountains that makes yours look like the proverbial mole hill.
Think of it like getting to a large trampoline that is set ridiculously high off the ground. First you have to find materials to build yourself a sturdy ladder, then you have to actually build this ladder, then you have to climb this ladder. There will be set-backs along the way, with the material, with the construction job, and finally, with the actual climb, which is perilous and full of falls. But then, when you reach the promised trampoline, if you just stand there, you’re not going to have any return on your investment. You’re not going to have any fun, not unless you start jumping. The harder you work at jumping, the higher you’ll jump, the more summersaults you’ll be able to perform, the more butterflies you’ll gather in your stomach, the freer you’ll feel. After all, isn’t that why you worked so hard to get to your trampoline?
But trampolines aren’t really safe. You can put a net around yours, but still, there are no guarantees of safety. You might have a rough landing, bounce wrong, get hurt, fall off. Just because you’ve reached the top of the mountain doesn’t mean that you get to sit down and rest on your accomplishment. Yet people do. Some must get to that place they’ve defined as the culmination of all their hard work, and they expect the trampoline to do the work for them, or they expect their mountain to be the tallest when in reality it’s the very first of all the mountains they are now expected climb.
But for me, getting to published is actually the start of the journey. Everything that came before, all that hard work, that was prep. That was the building of the muscles needed for the journey, the getting of that skill set that is essential once you get to the target. Now the fun can begin; I can get paid to do what I’ve always loved to do.
However, there is one last caveat. None of this is easy. All of it requires hard work without any shortcuts.
Now, go forth and build the life you want, and reach your goals and use them to create new, loftier goals, and go farther and further than even you thought possible. And if anyone asks, tell them that living the life of your dreams is exhilarating — like jumping on a trampoline. It changes everything. Every. Thing.