The death of a dream is hard to swallow.
But there it is. It stares you in the face. And no matter what you will to change it, it remains unfazed by all your intentions.
I had such a dream this year. It was the book I thought I’d lived my whole life to write. Realistically, though, I had been thinking about these things since 2008.
Hardly a lifetime.
But the weight of the theme was what moved me. I took note of each concept. I savored the freedom it would bring. I spent each day trying to live out each one faithfully.
And my life was never the same.
But the truth is, maybe I was meant to live what I’d learned rather than profit much from teaching it.
That’s not to say that the project was a total failure. It wasn’t. The chance to articulate my newfound wisdom into words was a wonderful exercise for me. In fact, it served to confirm that the daily pouring and repouring over my notes from that seminar was not in vain.
So I took what I learned, typed it all out, formatted it for sale, and hit the publish button with high hopes.
Immediately, there was a sales surge.
But like a short match, the flame died before I felt it had reached the other end.
I ran two free promotions. The first was good. And it even spurred the sale of one copy per week for a few weeks.
Then the enthusiasm dried up.
So I changed the cover.
I revised the words and came up with a new title I thought would set the world on fire.
Then, in a last ditch attempt to save my dream, I changed the cover once more.
The response to the cover was better than the response to the last free promotion of the book.
So, yesterday, I decided the time had come to say goodbye to my darling.
Goodbye Grace-Soaked Sinners
As I said before, it’s hard to let go of something you love.
But the experience wasn’t totally wasted.
Recently, I attended the memorial service of a young man who died much too early.
Funerals have a way of putting things into perspective, don’t they? All the petty things that bothered you about someone just don’t seem to matter when they’re no longer around. When someone dies, you are forced to evaluate his life. Was it well lived? Is there anything he did so well I feel ashamed in comparison? What can I take away from such a trip to the crossroads?
Here’s what I learned from my “failure”.
While I thought my writing was superb, I’m really better at it now.
Everything you attempt will not put you on top of the world.
There is a lot of truth in the saying, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Perhaps this book was my gateway to where I am now as a writer.
Friend, if you want to succeed, you’ve got to settle for the reality that your best effort will not be perfection. You must learn your trade. You’ve got to be willing to make mistakes and turn out mediocre work so you can get to the point where your work resembles art.
There is no other way.
Look at someone learning to walk. His first efforts are wobbly and are the stuff of YouTube viral videos. But when he has gone through all the bumps, bruises, and embarassment, his determination to succeed leads us to stand up and cheer, doesn’t it?
I remember when my daughter first walked ten feet across the floor of my store. It was a moment I’ll remember forever. And if you have a child, won’t you remember that?
And when you’re the one who overcomes a great struggle and grabs the brass ring, don’t you feel like you’re on top of the world?
It’s All Worth It
I know I’m not perfect.
And neither are you.
So why don’t we both agree that we won’t worry about it?
Instead, why don’t we just focus on doing the best we can and let whatever happens, happen.
You only get one life. Funerals remind us of this. And it’s okay if we stumble and fall on the way to success. Babies remind us of this. So don’t expect things to always work the way you want. Just do what your heart tells you is right. When you fall, get up and learn from it. Then dust yourself off, forget the shame, and press on.
Now go and make the best of your New Year.
Appreciate the blessings of this year.
And never settle for the thought that because you’re going through a rough patch, life isn’t worth living to the full.