Being Bachelor Number #65,170.
Cue the campy seventies TV dating gameshow music. I sit in a turtleneck with blazer and bell-bottomed pants. My hair is curly and in an afro. I sport some heart-shaped glasses (crazy this style has come back into vogue in 2021). On a tie-dyed set, I recline on a stool-style chair in a vain attempt to look cool. I wait for the lovely bachelorette, Miss Bess Sella to ask me some inuendo-filled question about how “groovy” my book is. Trouble is there are 65,169 bachelors ahead of me.
Ain’t enough gold chains and cologne in the universe.
As a newly self-published author, I find myself waiting. My book DISVNITVS True Curse launches at the end of July. I make multiple attempts to make myself “hip” and “with it.” I create an enhanced audiobook reader magnet. I study and research funnel pages. I make a website…twice. Once I use GoDaddy’s web design service, then on my own. I write blogs. I get an email handling service. I boost Facebook posts. I buy a BookBaby Facebook ad campaign. Still, I feel like a squeaky-voiced poser.
What’s he got?
But the delectable Miss Sella seems infatuated with a guy whose book’s average ranking is two and a half stars. I scratch my head. I look at his author page. Bachelor Number One has twenty-one books. Twenty-one! Nice to have a body (of work) like that. Heck, nice to have time to write a body of work like that. Here I sit at my first, unlaunched, no reviews, novel.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
When we look and care what others possess, we diminish ourselves. In a competitive world, how can one not peek at and envy the blessings others enjoy? We see it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Everyone has something you don’t: a nicer car, a more exotic vacation, a fancier dinner, more friends, more followers, more likes…twenty-one books. When we look at what others have, we discount our own blessings and achievements.
Don’t judge a movie by the trailer.
If we judge ourselves by some online number or food post, we fail to notice that this is a highlight. Often, these are the best things. Bachelor Number 2 shows the fancy car and not the cramped apartment. Bachelor Number 3 has 657 friends but knows only ten of them in everyday life. Bachelor Number 4 posts a photo of that $200 Brazilian Steakhouse dinner, but not the Ramen noodles he eats the other 29 days of the month. The film trailer is one side of a multifaceted story. But how do I work at and pay attention to my blessings, my highlights, and my achievements?
“Find a good NCO and hang on with both hands.”
My stepfather gave me this advice as a brand-new 2nd Lieutenant in the Army. Completing ROTC and my commissioning was a first important step. But there is the development that only comes from experience. I needed someone with this career knowledge to educate me over time. I will do the same in my writing career. I need a “good NCO.” That is “Non Commissioned Officer” or Sergeant. Drowning in the ocean of information and well-meaning but often bad advice, where do I turn? Information overload is the meanest monster out there. I need a sergeant that already faced these issues and is still standing.
“The truly wise learn from the mistakes of others.”
I decide to listen to a favorite author mentor, J.F. Penn. She’s published a lot of books and now enjoys success. But, she has seen her share of struggles with self-publishing. Her advice is to be patient and build your author career. Do your best. You’ll make mistakes. Learn. Get better every day. Common sense things. But as a military mentor once told me, “Ain’t nothing common about sense.”
Even Bachelor Number One was once a pimply, squeaky-voiced teenager.
“Mister 21 Books” was once “Mister First Book.” He built his career one novel at a time. All I see is his current, highlight-reel status. I missed the countless hours he spent writing drafts, eating Ramen in a cramped apartment, working in a job he hated perhaps. I’ll pay my dues the same way. I’ll let God develop my character and not my comfort. This part of the game is a ride on a very steep learning curve. Like freefall steep.
“Strange Game. The only winning move is not to play.”
This iconic line from the movie War Games, rings true in our online, social media, look-at-me, competitive society. Instead, I’ll embrace the “grinder” part of my personality that got Book One finished and self-published. I decide it’s time to stand up and walk off the set. “You can have my spot,” I tell bachelor #65171. “I’m gonna go home and write a blog about this experience.”
Attaching your self-worth to a rating is a recipe for failure and discontent. Being the beau of Miss Sella will have to wait. I’ll eat some ice cream and write another chapter.
“What flavor?” you ask.
“Rocky Road, what else?”