Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The importance of believing in dreams, projects and spreading wings

Do you know that project you've been putting off for years? So I started one last week. I now have an English blog – also hosted on Blogspot, my favorite blogging platform. A few days of life and the blog is already receiving visitors from different places in the world (including the United States, Slovakia, Germany, France, Portugal, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Canada and Ukraine), which is pretty cool, since the proposal was precisely to reach a larger and different public and the Portuguese language is not as widely spoken in many countries as the English language.

Today's text is to remind you of the importance of believing in your own projects and spreading your wings. Have you ever thought about the amount of things you left behind, put it on paper, and never did it? Yeah. I have a list of projects stored inside my mind. Unfortunately, life is too short and we can't do whatever we want, but when we make choices and we focus, things may surprise us. It takes courage to follow your own journey. Talking to a fellow international author and bestseller around the world, I realized that either I could spend my entire life hostage to a scenario and reality completely different from the American publishing market or I could take a chance. Besides being an author, he is also an editor, so he imagines my difficulties here. He raises the question, “What stops you from publishing abroad?” Suddenly, I'm thinking about hope and a movie quote that clearly defines the life of Brazilian authors who do not give up.

“The door is locked”
“In that case, create your own door”
– Guillermo del Toro, Pan's Labyrinth

Translating my short story Para Sempre Uma Estrela (Forever a Star) is on the list of projects that I started and I did not finish. The story was published on Amazon in Portuguese and French (translated by Luiz Fernando Mongenot) but the English version did not come out – and the cover story has been ready for years. Although it contained the same character on the three covers, I used different images. The initial idea was that the translations were launched at the same time. What discouraged me to continue at the time? A little lack of focus, so many side projects. This year I have decided not to renew a partnership with publishers here on the blog (in Portuguese version), so I can have more energy for my own professional projects and open up more space for myself.

Originally published in an anthology in 2013, my short story focuses on two characters who are going through a crisis. I like to explore this idea in my narratives, characters that fight against their own demons and try to survive in a world where social pressures are so strong that others want you to be anything but yourself. Being a writer in Brazil, for example, is seen as a hobby, vagabondage, among many other things. There are few people who realize the potential of building a career as a professional author around here. It is a somewhat problematic issue that ends up leaving many people frustrated. Often, it is easier for an author to be published outside the country, so that the doors open to him here than the other way around. Not to mention the innumerable possibilities that this contact can bring, such as different publishing contracts and adaptations. I hope that the national publishing market opens up more, but following the journey of several fellow writers, I see that it will still take a long time for this.

Whoever accompanies my blog in Portuguese for a long time already knows that my dream is to pursue a career as a professional writer. Things, however, happen very slowly here. It takes time until many authors have the courage to admit out loud that they write books. Why? The lack of reading habit so common in the country makes the craft seem unnecessary to many. “Why write when many people do not read? Why write when people prefer to watch television or play video games?”, some wonder without realizing that television programs, movies, games, serials and even some reality shows are written by screenwriters. Words are almost everywhere. Writing moves the world. That favorite youtuber that many people enjoy often has his own script, even when we think it is completely spontaneous.

I kept the originals of my book for many years in the hope that the publishing market would be more open and eventually I would get in. I received proposals that were not exactly what I expected and have ventured into the journey of the independent author. There are many challenges. For example, my horror book, Escrita Maldita (The Cursed Writing), is now available in print, but so far I have not been able to get my own copy. I explain: the book is printed in the United States by the Amazon service and even though I have a preview option, I look forward to checking out their material and if the print material is good. I chose to put it on Amazon, adding the possibility of the reader to acquire the physical version of the book, since the horror novel was available only as an ebook format for Kindle. Even though I know there is still a lot of resistance with digital books in Brazil and with low sales volume, readers' feedback has left me quite excited to continue to venture into writing and independent publishing.

Soon I will also publish the printed version of my book O Círculo (The Circle), the first of my witch-themed fantasy series available on Wattpad. So far, the book has more than 50 thousand readings (sum of the readings of chapters, metric used by the largest online book platform). The initial forecast is that the series has five central books. I should also explore some parallel stories in other narratives, such as short stories. There is a lot to tell about the universe. I am currently writing the second volume of the series called O Livro (The Book), which has also pleased readers. It is very good the feeling of reciprocity, to write for someone interested in reading, who interacts with the story through comments and votes, sends messages asking for more when you stay a long time without publishing new chapters and identifies so much with the characters to the point of feeling inside the book.

Dreams require sacrifices and also organization. Reconciling writing, blog content production, video recording, creating your own book cover and designing it, marketing and advertising pieces, experimenting with different social platforms, answering readers and reading until you forget your own name. What time do I breathe? Lately when I'm on the yoga mat practicing and meditating. Just as writing helps a lot and the pen and paper become one when things flow, yoga helps me maintain my inner alignment and recharge my energies. We are so finite. I would be lying if I said that I have not gone through several bouts of anxiety and exhaustion, but if at the hallucinating pace of work (yes, I see it as a job, although there is always someone to devalue the craft of writer and content producer) are still far from what I would like, I wonder what they would be like if I did less. Dreams are so personal. Even when other people have similar goals, few people understand what we really feel on this journey and I'm lucky to meet some fellow writers as focused as I am,  each in their own way, making their crazy plans and always moving forward, even with the numerous challenges along the way. The important thing is that each one knows what it is to have a purpose.

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you” – Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing 

For me, being a writer is devotional, a daily dedication to this universe of words. A user of a question and answer platform asked what people thought when someone said “I'm a writer”. The author of the question clearly wanted a negative answer, after all, it is an universe of many inflated egos and believe me, even for the writers themselves it is difficult to survive in the middle of this jungle. “I think of a person who has dreams and loves to write. I can’t think of another way to describe a writer. It's not impossible to survive being a writer. There are a lot of authors (traditionally published or indie) that earns a lot of money with their writing. They do not write only for money but it must be nice to devote your life doing what you love”, I answered. Those who see published books can not imagine how many other books were written just to be thrown away, how many scribbles are destined to waste. Although it has a beautiful and inspiring side to writing, most of it is legwork. Muses come and go, but as Laurence Loud, the writer of The Cursed Writing, would say: “A writer who does not write is useful as a broken clock”. How many of those people who got frustrated with writing terrorize the lives of other authors out there?

When many people who do not know the reality of being a writer in Brazil discover how things are, the main question is: “Why do you keep insisting?”. Well, it may sound cliché, but I can't imagine not writing. Writing is part of who I am, is the glue that holds together all my fragments, but also teaches me to let go and to reflect on so many wrong conventions that are passed down from generations to generations. When you have dreams and projects, either you believe in them and invest your energy daily or eventually they end up dying – that’s why it’s so important to celebrate small victories. No one will tell you to do something that is up to you, especially in an extremely closed and competitive market, as the Brazilian scenario. Writing is not a hobby, it's not just a craft, it's what I love the most and the best part is that it is reciprocal. And there goes another dawn, when I'm surrounded by texts and books!

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