My father-in-law, may he rest in peace, always cautioned against people who promised overnight wealth and instant success. Such grandiose empty promises will blow up in your face sooner or later, and he was right. Similarly, in the Philippines there is an expression “Ningas-Kugon” which aptly describes the process of tall wild grass going up rapidly in flames but then dying down as quickly as it flared up. How many projects and situations have I been involved in that had that ningas-kugon effect, leading to a miserable disappointment.
In order to establish yourself as a credible photographer or writer, you have to put in the hard work, learn to deal with the criticisms and embrace all the stumbling blocks along the path, including rejection. There is no easy way around it and in my opinion, it is a necessary component of the growth process. There is definitely no magic formula that will make you famous for nothing. Stephen King, JK Rowling, Steve McCurry, and Ansel Adams did not catapult into fame at their first attempts. The time needed to hone your craft, develop and improve the skills required to deliver the quality and excellence required to get ahead in the game take years to establish and a LOT of patience.
Why the sudden cause for reflection on the matter? Last weekend I thought I could have four days to myself to indulge in writing more chapters of my next novel, inspired by the fact that the first book has been launched worldwide and it is simply thrilling to watch the book pop up on various sites and platforms. Writing the book, however was only one step of the journey. The more difficult part is building up the image and profile of the author to establish a track record, and most importantly, provide massive exposure for the book through strategic marketing. This is the side of publishing that I never really wanted to be bothered with, and as a newcomer to the playground full of bullies and wannabe’s it is a tough game. So my weekend was invested in submitting the book for review and marketing campaigns over and above the already brilliant work of my publishers at Dorrance Publishing. Since I am straddling two continent with two different sets of rules surrounding publishing and copyrights, I have also sought legal counsel to solidify my groundwork. Wow, talk about a major learning curve.
Speaking learning curves, Twitter, I have learned in the past two weeks, is by far the most powerful social media tool in existence. Facebook and Instagram pale in comparison to the marketing power and reach of Twitter, especially since the book promotion happens on social media platforms as well as independent websites. Mind you, I am still no great fan, but like I said, the work has to be done by hook or by crook.
Little by little, the copious amounts of time and treasure invested are beginning to blossom and let me tell you that it is thrilling beyond words. See the photograph of the windows above? I shot that at a Buddhist temple in Phrae, Thailand a week before I left the country for good. It was the inauguration of the new wing and the head monk was showing us around the grounds. My gaze fell upon the partially opened windows and I couldn’t look away. The four panels mirrored my soul perfectly, as I struggled between light and dark.
You can interpret the windows in any which way you want. At the time, I saw them as the closing of a chapter in my life. Today I look at the photograph and see my windows opening to a new light, bringing in fresh air into the dark room. It is all a matter of perspective and attitude. You can wallow and decay in the dark if you choose, or get up and fight your way back into the light. After the years of struggle, despair, depression and having lost my way, it is time to face the new dawn.