Some two and a half millennia ago, in what is now Southern Italy, there lived a legendary wrestler by the name of Milo of Croton.
A six-time Olympic Champion, Milo’s career spanned 24 years, during which he was undoubtedly the best wrestler of his generation. He is said to have been able to carry a bull on his shoulders and to have burst a band about his brow by simply inflating the veins on his temples.
“Heard joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor… I am Pagliacci.”
Oftentimes there’s a big difference between what we’re able to decipher about a person, what we see at the surface, and what lies underneath it all. There’s a big difference between appearance and essence.
I’m going to do the obvious here and use myself as an example.
It was November 2010. Maybe it was a dark and stormy night, I don’t recall. But I was going through a dark night of the soul, that’s for sure.
You know, a proper dark night of the soul, when you feel your chest being crushed under the weight of so many dying dreams that nothing can offer even a bit of comfort.
When the usual hack of, “Well, others have lost empires,” doesn’t help at all.
That’s when I found out about NaNoWriMo. I found out that I could self-publish stories. On Amazon. And sell those stories to people for money, which I could then use to purchase various goods that are needed for one’s survival.
I thought it to be the best thing ever, and so I dropped out of college and started punching those damn keys.
There were a couple of things that I hadn’t thought through though:
I had never written a novel.
I had never written a novel in English.
I had no idea what it took to actually self-publish a book.
I had no one to sell the damn thing to.
But, as I’m so fond of saying, we sometimes need a lot of courage to do something. Other times, we just need to be so dumb that we have no idea what we’re getting ourselves into.