ON BECOMING A MASTER SAMURAI WRITER
“I’m going to write a book!” you proclaim to your best friend, mom, husband, girlfriend over dinner. You are very proud of yourself. You have a great idea. Really, it’s the best idea. You can’t believe no one has ever thought of it before!
Nobody mentions how hard it will be to finish, to get an agent, a publisher, anyone to read it. Nobody mentions defeat. Maybe somebody does, but to hell with them!
Working on a first book is like entering training to become a samurai warrior (Without knowing that you have entered training to become a samurai warrior.) It requires true grit. You will be learning to cultivate the patience, wisdom, craft, physical and mental endurance to go into battle. If you aren't stopped by obstacles, or slayed by enemies - you will finish a book! The feat of which is equal to that of hurling Mount Sumeru across the Indian Ocean. There is no better sense of victory.
You may have won a part of the battle, but the war is far from over.
After you call your mom, you start sending query letters to agents and publishers. The anticipation is palpable. You check your email every ten minutes. The book is a home run. It took two years, five years, maybe a decade of your life to write. It is gonna happen. It has to happen. You gave it your all.
A few more rejections trickle in. They just don’t get the work. They have something else just like it. You solider on! You add a prologue, or better yet- an epilogue!
Some email kudos on good writing arrive with quite a few solid NO's! and then, we don’t think it will sell. How could no one want it?You take a nap.
After the hundredth rejection, you can smell the blood and carnage. Suddenly, a dark horse gallops around the corner; its rider holds a large sword over her head. She swings. If you do not DUCK....
You are applying to get a new online degree…in architecture, animal husbandry, nursing.
Momentary rejection, which can last years, is a part of writers’ lives. Sure, you can point to the few dozen who slayed the publishing world with the first swing, or the several hundred who march on making a solid living, but eventually, every writer experiences temporary defeat. Learning how to handle the battles in a long war is the key to becoming a master samurai writer.
SAMURAI MENTOR/WRITER TRAINING
Breaking through obstacles and enduring temporary setbacks is the purpose of warrior training. You are learning how to cultivate the endurance of a samurai which leads to victory. And for this, you must find a mentor.
To become a master, find an excellent mentor.
A mentor can be living or dead. A mentor is a teacher, a coach, another writer – one who has trained, fought and defeated his or her inner demons. And will show you how to do the same.
To defeat obstacles (within and without) a writer trains with the mentor to develop the qualities necessary in an excellent swordsman: mental and physical endurance.
These skills are the sharp sword that will slay the enemies of victory.
Drink more tea, less alcohol.
Get enough sleep.
Stop avoiding the laptop.
Stop avoiding the next sentence.
Stop making excuses.
Get off of Facebook.
Don’t call your mother again.
Take a walk.
Read a book.
See a movie.
Laugh with friends.
Send out a few more queries.
Listen to music.
Listen to the wind in the trees.
Smell the blooming jasmine through the open window.
Think more about possibilities.
Start a new book.
Send it out again.
Never give up.
CULTIVATE KNOWLEDGE & WISDOM
The knowledge that the battles will be hard does not mean you do not enter a just war. When you expect obstacles, you will neither be surprised nor slayed by them. Awareness of fire-burning dragons, falling boulders and unseen enemies hiding in wait makes you prepared for the long journey ahead.
Know that defeat will happen (self-imposed and otherwise).
Know that defeat may appear dressed like a woman in red.
Know what thoughts defeat you. Do not think them.
Know what actions defeat you. Do not do them.
Expect that the work will not be perfect.
Expect that it will not be easy.
Expect that it may take years.
Expect that others may not support you every time.
Expect that you will have to show up for yourself.
Ultimately, a master samurai writer knows that defeat is not measured half way through the battles – but at The End of the war.