"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."
In early April of this year, 25-year-old Chris Joyner was diagnosed with cancer following the results of a doctor's visit initially about a 24-hour "bug." He's had one emergency surgery and several rounds of chemo treatments over the past four months--his doctors trying to balance the risks of the medications against the long-term threat of the disease.
Despite going through an ordeal that I can't even fully imagine, Chris has been my biggest promoter--telling literally every doctor and nurse that crosses his path that I'm an author. Every time word has gotten back to me about this, it's humbled me to the point of crying--just the thought that helping me has priority in his heart over his own situation. All the trivial things I used to believe were reasonable excuses for not pursuing my dream have started to fall away, and it's made me think a lot about what a successful life really should mean.
Chris is my younger and only brother.
In writing books--really in doing anything significant in life--there are plenty of available sources that will tell you how something won't work, how you don't have the time or money, how you don't have the right education or background, and a host of other things that at the end of the day will either be challenges you'll find a way to confront and overcome...or the wall of comfort that tells you it's okay to give up and quit trying to find a solution. Every day, the majority of us have choices--and despite the illusions of safety and security it gives, procrastination is still a choice, too.
When you start stepping out and taking some personal risk--I'm talking about making a series of consistent choices toward your dream as opposed to just being reckless for its own sake--you'll also find that there are encouraging people who genuinely care about you and support your dream. (Connie C. comes to mind here on Gather, and Gabriella on Writing.com helped me a lot when I first started writing online in 2006.) When it comes to general life success and relationships, a network of support to do bigger things than you can do just by yourself is vital--and making a conscious effort to encourage the success of other people not only changes their lives for the better but also impacts your own.
Whether it's put to us in a direct way or not, a lot of people are raised on the idea that success is like a physical pie--that for one person to get more, another person has to get less. I have one easy challenge to this way of thinking, at least for authors: Show me some readers who decided to stop purchasing for the rest of their lives after just one book--after finding just one author. Think about your own bookshelves right now--and your ebook reader if you have one. Authors that are similar to you have the potential to become some of your greatest professional allies--because the same readers will like both of you and could discover one of you through the connection to the other. If as a whole authors started teaming up more instead of working against each other, I think it would transform the entire industry along with all the technological changes happening right now.
So when I tell you I want you to dream big--to pull out all the stops and not hold yourself back from succeeding--I want you to know why I mean it. Take some time and think about what you want to do with your life--who you want to become as an author and as a person. The clearer you get that vision in your head, the easier it is to take the steps to make it a reality.
You won't regret it.