In a radio interview I heard Merle Streep say she was lucky because she knew pretty much how good she was or wasn’t at different skills. What a gift, I thought.
I was in Tucson when I heard that interview, and on the way home while crossing the desert, I got a profound realization: I’m no good at business.
This is a big issue to me, because my dad was a serious flop at business. I have plenty of reasons to suspect the sources of his failures were his willingness to trust partners and his emotional rather than practical choice of businesses. He opened a cabinet shop because he loved woodworking and a boat dealership because boating felt like adventure, and he partnered in a golf course because golf is fun (mostly).
I have long held onto a superstition that for me to succeed in a business venture would in some mystical way honor and redeem my father. But since the recent realization, I have come to believe that to honor my dad I should learn from the lesson he taught me – don’t waste your time on something at which you are lousy. The corollary, concentrate on what you are good at.
I am a good writer. Very good. Maybe not the best, but very good.
Which delivers me to the subject of us authors being called upon to become authorpreneurs, a term so new my spell check doesn’t know it.
From Nina Amir in The Book Designer blog: “If you want to make a living as an author, you need to think beyond writing and books. Consider yourself both an author and an entrepreneur—an authorpreneur.”
Which of course makes one into a business person, which as I have confessed I’m no good at. So what is a fellow such as I to do?
Here are the answers I have come up with:
I can try to live simply, cutting out many non-essentials, and live with modest writerly ambitions (meaning leave the bestseller lists to those who fervently care about them).
Also, I can and will consider what I am best at as my vocation and the pursuits I may need or want to do because of practical motives (the business part) as hobbies.
A vocation, I work at, dedicating the best of my time and energy, pressing myself to follow a schedule and tentative deadlines.
A hobby is something I play at. Like crossword puzzles, I take it on as a challenge.
This new attitude is such as relief that when, usually at the end of the day, often over a glass of wine, I engage in posting something to Facebook or upgrading a website or reading an article by a marketing guru, I feel carefree as if I were lounging on the beach or playing ping pong.
What a relief.
Life is good (mostly).