I'm running late for a meeting with myself.
Let me explain.
Some years back (in 1996), I heard an album from one of the members of the Wu-Tang Clan, Ghostface Killah. The first track on the album is Iron Maiden. Not a particular track or album I rate though (as much as I love Raekwon's verse on Camay. Flawless). Anyhow. One of the things that always stuck with me from the Iron Maiden track is Cappadonna's verse on it - or rather one line. While Cappadonna's not a rapper I rate as highly from the Wu-Tang collective, he does drop one line that's always stuck with me:
"...every evening, I have a 'by-myself' meeting."
What I liked about it was the idea of formally taking a time out to be alone. Not just to relax or to reflect, but to review your progress, review any actions and, of course, AOB (Any Other Business). Admittedly, I've not had a by-myself meeting in years. I've been grateful in that while life isn't perfect, I've pretty much got a lot of good. As far as I'm aware, I have good health and sanity. I have positive people in my life, friends and family who support me - and that support is a two-way street. I work hard and work well - I'm not slavish to it. I have a social life. I have hobbies, interests, etc. For previous times in having a by-myself meeting, it was usually a chance to reflect, and not so much in the way of specific actions to take. Some, yeah, but it wasn't the primary focus.
Something changed today.
For what is probably the first time ever, not only did I have an idea of what I wanted to achieve, but how much I wanted to achieve. That's an important distinction.
Let's put this in author terms. Not necessarily for me alone. A new author may decide that they want to have a published book as a measure of success. As long as I've been writing seriously, I've always been mindful of how 'you' would set out your stall for success. An author may self-publish a book, but that's not necessarily a guarantee of good quality. Similarly for a book which is put out by a publisher. But either way, if that book is published, then that author is a published author. Are they then happy with that? Not necessarily. Why? Because there may be other factors in terms of the book's production, promotion, etc.
For as long as I've been writing seriously (which is currently about 10 years), I had the notion of taking my craft as far as I can. What changed today - and what hit me today - are more specific goals I have in terms of writing. Yes, I'd like to write full time and make a comfortable living from it. Only now, I'm getting a figure in mind. The question now is 'how comfortable?' How much would I like to earn; or need to earn? And it wasn't a lightbulb moment as such - but more like a spark from a key in ignition. I could damn-near see the machinery of all of it.
I'm sure there are some people who would think, let alone say, "well, good luck with that. It's a hard battle out there." Or words to that effect. Some of those responses may come from an honest place of constructive realism: those who appreciate the odds might be stacked against you, but genuinely wish you well with those odds. Some of those responses may come from people who simply don't believe in what you do, and will call you some kind of crazy for pursuing it. Or call you crazy, just for the hell of it.
And here's where I hold up a forefinger in an 'a-ha' moment.
Because there'll be idiots who'd be quick to say that something can't be done ...until someone goes ahead and does it. My man Ore will know this from every time he sees what I'm working on, or how I am when it's all Timberlands and bandana when I'm banging out heavy squats: I make it possible. And for him, I always cite 50 Cent's "If I Can't". The hook being, "If I can't do it, homie, it can't be done." So go and tell me you can't do it, or that no one else can do it, or has done it.
Then you let me have a crack at it.
Let me be clear on something here. Despite 10 years in the game so far, I still see myself as a relative novice. I might go another 10 years, sell how many more books, earn how much more money, develop my craft, etc. and still see myself as a novice As things stand at the moment, I don't need a home like a palace, I don't need my face on a billboard, and I don't need to be mobbed for my autograph. What would suit me fine (and what I need) is to again have a well-rounded and financially comfortable life. Ideally as a result of writing. And as much as I love this game, I'm starting to weigh it in very specific terms. How much work to write? How often to write? How much do I want to earn? Etc. etc. etc.
Very specific questions.
The evening ahead sees me free to hold the meeting. As far as your good selves are concerned, I'll still be delivering my best work to you. And engaging you, entertaining you. Maybe even scaring the shit outta you.
Business as usual.