The irrational exuberance of the internetz

I like them. These charismatic, optimistic, pep-talking, self-proclaimed philosophers and life coaches (who I will not bother naming here). Or at least I used to. They are good on those days I can believe in grandiose dreams, those days I believe in my own possible greatness, those days I believe that I can be a published author or do something else that is fabulous, that inside of me is some seed of accomplishment that has not yet unfurled.

But on days like today, I tire of them. I don't want to hear another one (already secure or seemingly so in their own success) tell me how I, too, can be like them, by following my own creative star and believing in my own genius (and following their formula, their blog, joining their community or buying their online course or book).

Because on days like today I don't believe in my own genius. And on days like today I'm not sure if we've all been sold a load of crap. If genius is all it takes. Or if it takes a heap of luck, a sprinkle of magic fairy dust and years and years of stubborn persistence in the face of failure and rejection. And I don't know if I'm a genius. If the fairies like me. If I'm lucky. And most of all, I don't know if I have the cojones to be stubbornly persistent.

You see it is a day like today because I've begun querying for my novel. That is another story in itself. But the process of querying brings up all these things in me. I pull on one emotional string and find it tied to another, until I realize I'm in the middle of a messy web, tangled up in blue as Bob Dylan would say.

I will admit, in hushed embarrassed tones, to my own longings for greatness. No, I have no wish to be celebrity famous, to ever be known by paparazzi or gossip columns or to be ostentatiously rich. But I wish to do something great, in my own small way. To write a book (or 10) and have them published and sold and read and loved and tucked up against knees and pressed to chests and passed on to friends.

It seems like a humble little dream, doesn't it? A cozy one? I've always thought so. But I've realized in the last two years it is so much more daunting than I imagined. And at times I get discouraged. Incredibly so. Not only are the odds of "being discovered" in a sea of manuscripts incredibly slim, there is also the fact that publishing is undergoing radical change at present.

And pursuing publication seems to suck all the joy out of what I love about books and writing. Instead of reading what I love in all its mad diversity, I feel obliged to learn my genre and stay current. Instead of being wildly creative, I need to understand the conventions of the publishing industry and my genre and stick to them. And the little time I have to write and read, is eaten into by the need to learn about the publishing industry, research agents and build a platform.  It all seems impossible! Especially as I wonder how I will have the time to do this once baby arrives in all his demanding glory.

Sigh. I don't mean to sound so whiny in this post, but it's where I'm at today. And the irrational exuberance of internet gurus makes me want to go off.

Because I think about this little baby I'm carrying. Will he also dream of greatness? Will his heart ache with longing for things he most likely will not be able to achieve? What will I teach him about it? Will I teach him to reach and strive, in spite of ridiculous odds? Or will I teach him to be practical? Or a bit of both? Will I teach him confidence and stubborn persistence? Should I teach him stubborn persistence in the face of ridiculous odds? Is that really wise?

At what point do we humans need a reality check? Doesn't a simple review of human history reveal that most people live "small lives of quiet desperation"? And if greatness is not possible, how do we accept our "small lives", make the best of them, and perhaps find a way to live a small life with a smile, a gentle humble spirit, kindness and peace? Because that's what I'd most want for myself, and that's what I'd want to teach my baby.

So many questions. So many strings in this web. Do you relate?


  1. I think my problem with the self-help gurus you speak about is the sense they sometimes give that being happy with a mundane life is just settling. But being a stay-at-home mom - mired in the day-to-day mundaneness of caring for a family and a home - has shown me that you kind find deep joy and satisfaction and even accomplishment in things that don't seem so glamorous. Life has phases - some for going big and bold, some for being quiet and strong.

  2. Yes! I know exactly what you mean Amy! I feel that way too sometimes. It's not just settling to have a quiet life - if that's what you want. Non-conformity does not necessarily equal fabulous life. Neither does travelling the world or wearing fancy clothes or going to parties where the pretty people are at. I guess we all have to find what is a fabulous life for us and ignore the outside voices.

  3. Yes. I totally relate. Put one foot in front of the other is what we do. :)

  4. I am extremely tired of the self-help gurus and life coaches. They in abundance online and I often wonder if they practice what they preach or if they are simply after money. But that's another thing altogether.

    I am struggling right along with you in that need to achieve creative success. I am also a writer and have recently dove back into painting. I plan to have a baby in the next year or two and at 35 I am conflicted with my need to be a commercial success and my desire to have a family and live quietly just creating. I guess I'll discover my path to happiness & success in my art once I begin that journey of starting a family.

  5. If you figure this out, please let me know! I feel very much the same--I have a similar dream (but, unlike you, I haven't already written an entire book!), but I get very overwhelmed when I think of all that seems to be necessary to get a book published.

  6. TOTALLY relate to this post, V. Alls I have to say is published or not, this is the place I come to when I feel an emotional need.. and you are making a difference in the 137 people who follow you on this blog. So whether you post often or when you feel like it, whether you are conventional, or edgy, or introspective, whether you are published in hardcover - you are making a difference and you are striking a chord. Per Malcom Gladwell, it takes 10K hours to be "great".. but you
    ARE great already!! Just giving you a bit of perspective.. baby steps, baby :)