A Writer and His Aspirations

One of the problems with talking about writing advice is that different pieces of writing advice hit people at different parts of their journey. It’s often why I think writing advice from someone *just* slightly ahead of where you are in a career can often be the most easy to puzzle apart and get.

I’d been relating my writers and pellets story mostly to writers who’d broken through, sold novels or short stories, but then found that insecurities still dogged them, as they failed to achieve some of the success that they’d felt was right in front of them as a result of lack of attention, rewards, sales, or money.

While many people understood what I was trying to explain, that one had to learn love the act of writing and build a focus on things they could control, a lot of people assumed that what I was writing was a screed against having aspirations.

In short, many read this as advice that one should not aspire to greatness. No more dreaming, no more reaching for the stars.

Which really misses the point of it.

By setting out to pen a novel, of course I have aspirations. I have aspirations of selling it. Of the rewards that I might accrue.

When you build a rocketship, you often, of course, do it because you dream of reaching the stars (so to speak).

But the art of becoming an excellent rocketeer involves loving building rockets, over and over again. Of the machinery and calculations involved. Aiming for the stars is wonderful, but liquid oxygen has to be procured, and rivets welded, and someone has to sit down with a slide rule and run the calculations.

And the rockets will fail. On launchpad. In the air. They’ll go off course and need to be blown up before worse happens.

In aiming for the stars, you’ll need to become a great rocket builder. In order to build great rockets, you have to get into the process of building great rockets.

You might get into space hating the process of building great rockets. Chances are, you’ll be a miserable rocketeer. A bitter person who might achieve something amazing (the stars) while hating the process. That’s okay.

Or you could get into the nitty gritty of building rockets, and be a happy person who achieves something amazing. And… in the off chance that you never get to orbit, you’ll still have had fun building great rockets.

And yes, there are some people who are building great rockets who will achieve that aspiration of getting to the stars, that aspirational dream, who weren’t even really trying to achieve it. They just loved rockets. They’re *also* happy people.

This is what I was saying: aim for the stars, by all means. But it makes me sad to see people not enjoying rocketry, both achieving and not achieving orbit. Or so focused on getting to orbit they’ve forgotten to love the process of getting there. They always strike me as unhappy, because even after getting to orbit they’re still stuck making rockets. But those people I see who love rockets, and have aspirations and not, seem to love what’s going on around them and are not as miserable. So my advice is that maybe, if you think you’d like to be happy, it might be worth looking into how you interact with your rocket.

I’m just saying.