Written by Ethan H. Gaines
I’ve never actually run a marathon. If I’m running then there is someone chasing me with ill intent and you should run, too. My wife ran a half-marathon some years ago and would get up early and run in the snow to train. There is a path by where we live that is used for leisure walking and jogging she used to train, but was not well kept. While I don’t run (except to stop someone from making a terrible mistake. Another story for another time) I certainly appreciate the training and discipline it takes to be able to run a marathon.
This concept of training and running a marathon, half or full, can be applied to just about anything. We’ve all heard it: it’s a marathon, not a race. Online our books at Last Best Press sell and all I see are numbers. These numbers equate to funds in the bank. Much like a direct deposit. You don’t necessarily see the money but you see it went in the bank. I used to not like that for the sole reason of enjoying holding my paycheck in my hands and taking it to the bank. That’s the money I worked for. I wanted to see it and feel it.
Only recently did I begin selling my books physically. That’s a rush. I sold the latest book in our library (Sagebrush Kid) for six dollars. Six dollars alone isn’t much and as a writer, you don’t get the full payment since most of it goes to the publisher. What I realized is business, especially business in the arts, isn’t a race but a marathon. You don’t run right off the start to get so far ahead so quickly, but you start out slow and build up. Sometimes you lose momentum and you fall behind, or you get discouraged because you see someone else farther ahead than you.
Never stop. It’s not a race to see who’s the best, but it’s a marathon to see who has the stamina to outlast the pain and misery and relish in the successes. Never stop. Even if you’re sucking air, hoping God sends a thunderbolt down to smite you (which He never did. That was Zeus), don’t ever stop. Find people to run beside you that are working towards the same goal, or have been running longer, and be willing to hear criticism from these people.
It’s not a race that you throw everything into it right away and things happen. You win or lose. The reality is you continually work towards your goal. Let me leave you with two ways on how to stay focused on your marathon:
- Surround yourself with like-minded individuals
Notice how I said “like-minded” and not “same-minded”? It does nobody any good to have people around you who think the same thing on every matter as you, but it is extremely beneficial to have people who have a different perspective than you. I try to find people who are on the entrepreneurial marathon to run with because we typically have the same goal and they may be more conditioned than I. So I want people who have that goal, but have specialities in different areas (editors anyone?) to help me along.
- Don’t think too highly of yourself
I cannot stress this one enough. Do not think too highly of yourself. If you’ve ever done anything that you felt pretty good at and you thought you had the grasp on but you didn’t…you know exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve made a fool out of myself by thinking I was better at something than I actually was. Even in writing I had gotten cocky and thought I was really good and then found out I really wasn’t. I was good only because I had been doing it for so long, but I wasn’t “great.” Give yourself credit for the amazing things you do, but remember you’re not the only one who does it.
It’s easier to work on your craft or discipline when you realize that we’re all in the same creative boat. Or in this case, the same marathon. I’ve heard this quote in some form from a couple writers, but I think it can be tailored to everyone in the visual arts or literary community. The quote is by Ernest Hemingway and goes, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one becomes the master”. We all learn from somebody in this marathon, so don’t waste your time comparing yourself to others.