The Thursday Thesis - 13/09/2018
Did you ever see one of those old Road Runner or Bugs Bunny cartoons? You know, the ones where a character flies off a cliff and pauses in the air as the full force of their situation hits them...just before they plummet earthward?
There’s a bemused look of incomprehension that they wear just before there’s a loud “P’tyooooh!!” sound...
That’s how it feels when you’ve finally completed one of your massive goals – one of your life’s great ambitions. You’ll have had a story in your mind of nailing your big thing – of taking the medal or lifting the prize - but you probably won’t have created a story for what you were going to do after you nailed it.
I had that feeling when I finally published my first book “9 Weird Things Guitarists Do - The Common Myths & Misconceptions that Poison Your Playing - and How To Defeat Them” back in 2016.For months I’d written and edited, edited and written, refined and tweaked it until it was as good as I could get it. I’d striven for perfection, but ultimately decided that imperfect and done was better than perfect but never published.
Man, I felt like I’d just bench-pressed the whole damned World when the book went live and began to sell on Amazon. But with the book published and my box ticked, I began to drift; a curious aimlessness set in on me as I failed to begin the next book straight away, in order to sustain my momentum as a writer. Of course, I still had this blog so I could con myself into thinking that I was still being productive, and I began to invest in property at around this time, so I wasn’t being lazy or slacking-off – honest, Guv!
So what happened?
The best way I can make sense of it is that I’d simply ran out of story. I had a plan to write the book and to publish it, and that was great – except it was also what was wrong. My story only took me as far as it went, and as soon as I reached that point everything stopped.
Of course, I should have started to write the next book as I completed 9 Weird Things, and I should have planned to continue with the same daily ritual of writing 500 words per day.
I should have written it, but I didn’t – not for a while.
And – for the record - this world doesn’t deal in shoulda, woulda or coulda, because it’s too busy and too indifferent to listen to you and I making bullshit excuses for our cluelessness pleading to be let off, just this once.
Ditto for completing my first marathon: I ran the course, sauntered over the line and promptly ceased to run for several weeks.
My story got me to the start line and over the 26-and-a-bit miles, but after that – nothing. Zilch, nada, bugger-all, zip, squat.
Now you’d be forgiven for thinking that I’d know better than to let my plan peter out as I crossed the finish line – but that’s what I did.
I’m not an isolated case of stupid, either, because we all run out of story unless we have a plan that extends beyond successfully achieving our goal. Whether you’re getting married, running a marathon or playing a new song on your guitar, you’d better have a story that continues after the event is over. If you don’t have an ongoing story, all you’ll have is a sudden and unpleasant sense of running off a cliff-top and finding that the emptiness beneath you isn’t pushing you up.
“P’tyooooh!!” won’t be far behind.
So ask yourself, as you head off towards your Big Thing – “what are you going to do after you get there?”, because loitering in mid-air is not an option, trust me.
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