a blog by J.M. Cottle
Facebook Twitter Goodreads Newsletter

Anyone could do it, but how many do?

When I published my little book about my trip to Britain, my goal was to see what self-publishing was like and to have copies for my grandmothers. It wasn’t my best work and I wasn’t taking it seriously. It was no big deal.

To my friends and family, though, it was a very big deal. They congratulated me as if I’d, you know, actually published something. I was embarrassed by the attention. I hadn’t done anything special! The process was not that hard; anyone with patience and a word processor could do it! It wasn’t even a novel. It was just a short collection of blog posts. I was afraid that people were going to think I was some kind of Real Author and then they would read my book and realize I was in fact a Giant Fraud because self-publishing a collection of blog posts is not real publishing.

But then my partner reminded me…

  • How many people actively save up for a trip they’ve always wanted to go on?
  • How many people actually go on that trip?
  • How many people are brave enough to write about it on their blog for the world to read?
  • How many people learn how to put a book together?
  • How many people push the publish button to get a book in print?

Anyone could do it, but how many actually do? I didn’t publish a bestselling novel that’s touching the lives of millions or whatever, but I had still done something that many people daydream about and never do. I have a right to be proud of that. (Isn’t my partner wise? I’m so lucky.)

This wisdom has two sides:

  1. Anyone could do it, so you could do it too. When you learn more about how things are done you often find that they aren’t as mysterious and difficult as you had imagined. Our idols, who have accomplished so many amazing things, are humans like us. Rather than feeling like the magic has been taken out of it, embrace it. This just means you can do something that you never thought you could. Fewer and fewer things become impossible.
  2. If you have done something important or cool, be proud of it. Don’t be embarrassed by praise, even if what you did seems easy once you’ve gotten to the other side. Part of the praise is admiration because you’ve stepped up and acted. We need more of this. There’s too much apathy, too many people setting aside their dreams for mundane reasons. I wanted to publish a book, and I did. Now there are books with my name on the front floating around in the world (nineteen of them, to be exact). Even if the book isn’t the most impressive one ever, that’s still pretty cool.

Is there something you want to do, but you keep thinking, “It’s too hard,” or “I’ll do it later,” or “I could never do that”? Stop it! That kind of thinking won’t get you anywhere. Do a little research and you may find that your dream is far more attainable than you realize.

Anyone could do it, but will you?

2 Responses to Anyone could do it, but how many do?

  1. This makes me think of my writing.

    I entered a poem contest out of boredom one day, and my poem was actually a semi-finalist. That means it got published in a book. Since then, I have another one published, and I’ve had at least one more ask for the publishing rights by another company.

    And I’m only 17, just a kid who writes her heart out on her deviantART account occasionally when life sucks.

    My boyfriend is honestly so proud of me, almost jealous, and it’s kind of crazy. I mean, here he is with a job, looking for another, in college, has his own car, his own apartment, and only 20, where I’ve still got a semester before I’m out of college.

    I agree entirely to give things a shot, because you never know what could come from it. I entered my poem in a contest because I was bored and had nothing else to do, and now I’m a published author. I’m extremely proud of myself. :)

  2. Not anyone can do it.

    I have executive dysfunction as part of my autism. This means that planning, self-regulation, and such are extremely difficult for me. For me, it’s extremely difficult to get my book published, not because I’m not capable of any of the individual steps, but because doing them all in order, at certain times, and not forgetting them in the endless stream of Other Things Going On, is extremely difficult.

    What I’ve learnt is that executive function challenges are invisible to most people. Most people equate executive function with effort, which isn’t exactly wrong, but then they go and assume that effort is something a person has free control over. I can’t control how much effort I put into something. When I try to force myself to do anything, it feels like trying to get an ADHD kid to do his homework. Except it’s my own brain that’s balking and refusing and searching for anything else to do.

    I heard an analogy once of ‘thermals’. Basically, some birds fly by power-flapping, others primarily glide on thermals. If you’re a thermal-flying bird, you may not have the physical strength to power-flap very long (especially since many thermal birds are physically large birds, such as albatross). If you can’t get thermals to go there, you’ll find it nearly impossible to get there. But if the thermals are right, you can go huge distances without needing to rest.

Say something