If The 121st Time You Don’t Succeed

Folks, I was in Maine this past week doing a book tour and giving lectures, so I met up with a good writer friend of mine who lives there, who I’ll call Stedman Kling. Now, I’ve known Stephen for a long time now, and this guy has been reasonably successful in his life, writing mostly stories where someone gets stabbed in the eye, but a few really nice gems.

We had been talking about my successes for a while, which is one of our favorite topics, and I changed the subject and asked Stedman what his next project was going to be.

“I don’t know, Matt,” he began. (My friends don’t usually include the honorofic “doctor” in front of my name, but I don’t advise that other people follow suit.) He continued: “Sometimes I worry that my best work is behind me, and that I’ll never have another big success like I had with Marrie or the Discolored Tower series.” (For the sake of anonymity, I’ve changed the names of his books.) I couldn’t believe it. Here was Steffan Kling, one of the most successful authors of all time, who I know personally, and have for a long time, and who I see as often as I can, and he was worried about future success!

It just goes to show you that even the best of us can be afraid of crossing into the unknown, of stepping into that uncertain future, of following our passions and goals. If you say to yourself (or others), “I want to be a world-famous clothing designer, but I really don’t have the time to pursue that, and besides, I’d probably fail and I’m not really that good…” Well, then, you’ve done the Dance of the Scaredy Cat. Of COURSE you’ll be successful, that’s why that future is so frightening. It brings up a whole pile of changes into your life, and changes can be scary. Look, if you knew that you would not succeed, then you would not be afraid of anything, because if you tried and failed, then nothing would change in your life. The truth that you’re trying to squirm out of, to avoid at every turn, is that YES YOU WILL SUCCEED IF YOU TRY. Maybe not the first time, maybe not the second, maybe sometime between the 121st and the 189th. The point is, on a long enough timeline, with passion, drive, and love for yourself, you will find something amazing that you have sought. It may look a little different than how you envisioned it, but it’s there for you.

Stop dilly-dallying around, and wasting your time distracting yourself with the DVD set of Season 1 of Gossip Girl. I mean, even though it’s extremely compelling and it looks great on your new plasma TV screen, is watching that show REALLY what you were put on this earth to do? (Note that I did not say Season 4 of Lost because that would have been a trick question, since yes, it is one of the reasons we were put on this earth.)

Anyway, disconnect these internet tubes for a moment and think about those things you’ve wanted to do that “someday” you’ll get around to doing. Because, folks, that day is TODAY. So DO IT. Doctor’s orders.

Dr. Matt*

*Dr. Matt is not a real doctor.

Dr. Matt

Dr. Matt* gives advice on relationships, life, death, half-life, pet ownership, sexuality, asexuality, proto-sexuality, and mustache growing. * Dr. Matt is not a real doctor.

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