Wednesday, March 21, 2012

a new hope

"Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends..."

Is there anyone out there?

Most, if not all, of you know that my blog has been on hiatus for at least five months now, coming out once to rave about The Way. Many of you also know the identity crisis this blog has had from Day One, it seems, despite my stating clearly that it's about writing and my being a working writer. I had decided that I wasn't going to return unless I had something I really wanted to say or write about.

Well, I think I've found that something.

I recently read a book called The Law of Success, by Napoleon Hill. Published in 1928, it is a 600+page course about fifteen shared traits of successful people, the culmination of 20 years of close observation of some of the giants of the time, ranging from Ford to Edison to Carnegie to Woolworth and many, many more. (Given the time period, it's rather male-dominated. There are also some references that, by today's standards, are rather politically incorrect and actually made me wince, but I can't hold that against him.) Despite its being over 80 years old, it's surprising to see how relevant the book is (and, moreover, how needed it is in today's economy).

While reading this course, I was delighted to find how many of the principles I'd put into practice almost naturally, albeit not in an organized manner. Parts of the book were eye-opening--not because the content was new, but because I was seeing new ways to apply it.

One way was in the classroom. I'd been having a rather difficult time this semester, especially with motivation (both of students and myself). The more I read this course, the more I wanted to be teaching those principles. And so, I found a way to do so while still meeting the objectives of the course. I tossed out the syllabus, and the remaining assignments, and wrote new ones. The change in the class, and myself, was instant.

Another way is here, on this blog. Specifically, I want to present the Law of Success to writers.

All too often, when I attend writing workshops, panel discussions, and conferences, I hear writers and speakers say this: "Don't expect to make any money from it." At one time, I was one of those people who conformed to this mentality, until I started to wonder: Why? If writing is my passion, the one thing I want to spend my life doing, why shouldn't I expect to be paid for it? Moreover, why shouldn't I make it a priority to make a living from it? Why go into any career with such a defeated attitude, especially before taking one step?

I wanted to make money. I wanted to make a living from my writing. And so I decided I would. It's taken five years to do so, but I'm finally at the point where I'm ready to make the leap.

What I want to do here is present the principles of the Law of Success, one per week, and tailor them specifically for writers. However, any reader of my blog, in any career, can apply these principles to their jobs, families, hobbies, goals, aspirations, etc. My aim is not to sell you a get-rich-quick scheme, to promise that you'll become a best-selling author, or to give you a formula. I do not see this as a self-help book, or a self-help course. Rather, my aim is to show you the possibilities, to awaken your creative spirits, and to have a little fun along the way (after all, say Ben & Jerry, "if it's not fun, why do it?"). I have, by no means, mastered all of these traits. But I am delighted to see how many of them were at work when I reflect on my own success stories, be it as a teacher or a writer. I'll be sharing those as well. And I look forward to learning as I teach.

I hope you'll join me for the ride.


Elspeth Antonelli said...

I admit when I first read your post title I thought "She's doing some sort of weird Star Wars thing?" but then it all made sense.

This sounds fascinating, Elisa. Count me along for the ride because I've never understood why wanting to make money from doing something you enjoy is a bad thing.

Elisa said...

Trying to suck up to my Star Wars fan base, was I.

And thanks for comin' along, Beth -- I hope it'll be fun as well as inspiring. :)

Rob said...

I gotta pick up this book. Welcome back, Elisa. :)

Elisa said...

Thanks, Rob!

It's quite a read. A bit redundant at times, but that's by design. Was particularly interesting to see the cost of living in 1928, when Hill was discussing "The Habit of Saving Money."

I don't think he'd be taken seriously today, especially since so much of what he writes has been adopted by the "The Secret" fringe. But for me his credibility comes from having done focused observation that could've been applied to an academic paper had that been his audience.

Jacqueline Howett said...

I love the positive notion!

It's also nice to see how you can leave the scene for 4 months and just pick up where you left off, like it was four days ago.

So glad to see this book brought such inspiration to you.

Enjoy your weekend!