Value Fulfilment (or Lack Thereof)

The subject of writing a post (theme, content et cetera) has come up several times of late. When our own EM covered the subject (How to Write a Blog Post) I made the comment: “It doesn’t matter what blog, post/article I have to write I always leave it until the day before it’s due (waiting for inspiration) and then (panic stricken) write about the first thing that comes into my head.” I guess I’m one of the ‘seat of the pants’ kinda guys. The following post is no exception (Oh thrilling…).

I woke up this morning feeling good for some reason. It didn’t last long.

An unhappy child for various reasons, I cut my education short to join the army; not because I was keen to be a soldier, but because it meant getting away from my home environment. That decision led me on a whole other flight plan; after numerous career changes, with a modicum of success in each occupation, I was left feeling unfulfilled and unsatisfied with my life. Writing was something I always did, to keep my head straight, and something to which I was always going to one day focus on totally, when I got everything else out of the way ( Hmmm yes…).

Well anyway, here I am… A Writer. I love being a writer and after some stops and starts – practicing my chops and garnering some much needed enlightenment – I believe I am a good writer, with something to say. So, now I keep writing; except for the times when I am too down to write, which happens occasionally.

I have completed five books (I’m hoping to make it seven by the end of the year: I’m working on an historical fiction and a sci-fi novelette), so far only three of the five have received reviews, which for the most part have been excellent. Until last week I had received only one bad review (one star) from someone (a reader) who didn’t attach their name, and I kind of thought it was someone with a personal axe to grind: I made a few enemies in my past life (the nature of the game)… Paranoid???!… Nah!

Last week I got my second bad reader review, on Amazon, for a book of mine that has previously averaged five star, really wordy, upbeat reviews. No name on this second negative review either, just initials – I’m currently sifting through my memory banks; perhaps I can track this person down and… Ahh… yes, getting a little carried away there… only kidding… no… really… I was only kidding!

Usually, a fairly upbeat kinda guy, I am not affected by serious lows or intoxicating highs; however, as I said, I was feeling positive when I awoke this morning and then I remembered the recent two star review, on top of that I came to the realisation that my financial situation could be infinitely better. Well, I began to experience what could be termed depression.

So, what is depression? Is it simply the absence of joy? Some psychiatrists would tell you that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance; others would say it’s caused by a view of the world taken through a set of negative beliefs that cause the body to create the chemical imbalance. Both statements, equally unhelpful, could be said to be true. However, getting out of the chicken and the egg scenario, reality is simply reality; a lack of value fulfilment within that reality, for whatever reason, causes depression, which can then become self perpetuating (clinical depression: where the chemicals continue to be out of balance).

Depression (Manic or otherwise) seems to be prevalent among those considered to be artists: painters, sculptors, writers, or those from any of the many and varied performing arts. Those individuals who should, you might think, experience more value fulfilment than most, seem to suffer more from the lack thereof. Or is it simply that the more value fulfilment is realised, in its absence, the more it is missed.

The artist, writer or otherwise, is constantly striving for perfection on their own terms, as well as always putting themselves, and their art, out there for all the world to see, to criticize or acclaim; the problem with that is ‘you can’t please all of the people all of the time’. So, I believe that, in order to survive as a writer, or creative being of any kind, one needs to develop the armouring to deal with the world at large.

How is your value fulfilment going?

Author: T.D. McKinnon

Scottish author T.D.McKinnon ‘Survived the Battleground of Childhood’ in the coal mining communities of Scotland and England before joining the British Parachute Regiment at fifteen where he remained for five years. He has trained in the martial arts for most of his life and had five Karate schools in Scotland before immigrating to Australia. He writes across several genres and has completed five books that are all available as eBooks. He lives in Tasmania, Australia with his wife. Learn more about T.D.McKinnon at his website and Amazon author page.

17 thoughts on “Value Fulfilment (or Lack Thereof)”

  1. T.D., your post is candid, refreshing and helpful. While we have to face reality of the way things are from writers, artists, etc., we can’t deny the absolute truth about fulfillment to quote your words, ‘you can’t please all of the people all of the time’. We can only concentrate on the positive side and strive, each time, to produce a better product. Thanks for sharing.

    1. We try to be helpful, that’s what we do here at IU, sometimes that’s sharing our joys and successes and sometimes our pain and distresses. Together we can endure, hell we can be triumphant.

      Thank you so much for dropping by, Lilian.

  2. Hi T.D, I have discovered that it’s only people in a bad moods with bigger problems than me, that tend to spew out their negativity. Sometimes it’s not clear who benefits, it may not do anyone any good, but it happens. How I feel about my own efforts, achievements is all that matters.

    1. How very true, Ida, we must first be happy with ourselves, with our own efforts and achievements; however, in our particular, chosen field of endeavour we need to have that feedback from a sometimes fickle public. We have to put ourselves out there and take the chance, hoping we can perhaps please some of the people most of the time, or most of the people some of the time.

      Thank you so much for dropping by, Ida.

  3. Thank you, T.D. People often talk about growing that thick skin, the suit of armor, and we do, to some extent. But I think it’s also a choice we make, every day. Some days that armor is pretty thin, though. I’m a recovering perfectionist, trained as a child to please everyone. Yet I keep writing, I keep publishing, I keep bearing the scrutiny, the criticism. Why, if it seems to my loved ones at times that it’s making me crazy? It fulfills something in me, it must, or else why carry on? Fascinating topic.

    1. How right you are, Laurie; sometimes it’s like water off a ducks back: you think, ‘this is OK, I can handle this, no problem, I’m a pro.’ While at other times you excuse yourself, go to your quiet corner and meditate, or cry, or howl at the moon. Why do we do it? Because we have no choice.

      Thank you so much for dropping by, Laurie.

  4. Hi T.D., It’s good to hear from you, I always enjoy your posts. One of my favorite sayings is,”It’s not so much what others think of you, but rather what you think of yourself.” When I’m going through a down period, I reach deep down inside and repeat that as my mantra. After all, no one will ever see that reflection as you will. Actually you are a pretty positive man.

    1. Thank you, Aron, and you are right of course: first and foremost you have to be true to yourself, and to do that you have to also be honest with yourself. If you are true and honest with yourself, and you put yourself out there, as we must to do what we do, then you ultimately, graciously accept what comes back to you. It’s just that creative hearts are, by there very nature, gentle and we sometimes need a Kevlar vest.

      Thank you so much for dropping by, Aron.

  5. Writing isn’t about making a ‘product’, it’s about exposing a little bit of ourselves to public scrutiny. Every good review is like a hug from a good friend. Every critique, or bad review feels like someone is saying ‘you’re crap’. And the sum total of hugs doesn’t seem to balance out that one person who really doesn’t like you because he/she doesn’t like your book.

    But there is a flip side to this as well. If you met that person, would you like them? Would you agree with their world view? Would you perhaps see them as narrow minded? Petty? Cruel? Perhaps a little pathetic in the way they exercise their little bit of power?

    In the end it’s always personal, and some people are impossible to like, so [expletive deleted] them!

    1. How many people have I met, during the course of my life, whom I have not liked, in fact really disliked? Way too many to mention. How many of those people have I told what I thought of them? A very few. However, if they had asked me I would have told them, but it would have been me, in their face, being honest.

      You’re right, Meeks, we do put ourselves out there, asking for opinions, and we shouldn’t be surprised when, on occasion, someone tells us something we don’t really want to hear. The difference being, if I choose to give a review I tell them who I am and why I think what I think; I certainly wouldn’t do it anonymously and just say ‘In my opinion this stinks!’ Or words to that effect. The words that come to mind are all the ones you used: petty, cruel, pathetic and I might add cowardly.

      Like you said, Meeks, [expletive deleted] them!

      Thank you so much for dropping by, Meeks.

  6. Interesting and thought provoking, I wonder if maybe much creativity comes from the dark places within us. I have to be out of my comfort zone before I can write. Your post took me back a few years. I tried my hand at stand-up years ago, was never very good but I enjoyed the challenge. When I suddenly stopped, people asked why and my answer was, “I’m not angry any more.” Maybe it’s harder to be creative when you’re happy, writing needs conflict and growth and pain. In a happy place, I’d only be fit for writing the rhymes in greetings cards. Is the act of writing the start of our armour? Plenty to consider.

    1. You could be right about the dark places, Carolyn. I’ve found that pain, anger and sometimes despair can provoke boundless energies that can be channelled into any number of destructive and or creative endeavours.

      Thank you so much for dropping in, Carolyn.

  7. Thank you for this. It gives us the sense that we share a common struggle.

    I’m much like Laurie, trained to please – in my case ‘or else’. It’s hard to drop that need for external validation. Some days it’s easier than others, but I find it a constant struggle. Finding that core within where I am secure in knowing who and what I am comes and goes.

    1. I understand that, ‘to please or else’, syndrome, Yvonne. In me, it morphed into an, ‘in your face’, attitude that would, later in life, get me into some confronting situations, but I totally get it! Mostly, I have a handle on that, ‘knowing where and who and what I am’, core of myself. But occasionally I slip out into the cold too.

      Thank you so much for dropping by, Yvonne.

  8. Yup, developing that armor is essential. But our critics always seem to be able to find the chink in that armor, don’t they? 😉

    Negative criticism says more about the person who posts it than it does about the person it’s directed at.

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Lynne, that type of negative criticism does indeed say more about the person posting it; however, it does do damage, all be it in small ways, like bringing down the average rating and perhaps, as you say, finding that chink and maybe planting a tiny seed of self doubt. We must of course pay attention to our defences. It’s similar to the danger awareness and self defence classes I teach to high school girls: be vigilant and aware but without being paranoid; a fine but necessary balance.

      Thank you so much for dropping by, Lynne.

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