J.K. Riki

It Might Be Great

A few weeks back I talked about Tom and his #RunningAway journey that made me realize I, too, had been running away. I came to my senses, snapped out of it, and got back to work on my book (which is coming along nicely, by the way). Still, there was something nagging me about why I had been putting off the final push to publication.

I sat with it for a little while and came to a reasonably clear realization of the why: If I didn’t finish the book, it might be great. It might be a bestseller. It might change people’s lives for the better, and win awards, and create a utopian society free from poverty, hunger, and war.

But if I DID finish the book, and it didn’t do any of those things, then it would never “might be great.” It would be whatever it ended up being, and that might not be great. It might be average. It might sell two copies, or even none. People might hate it, or worst of all, not care enough to feel anything about it, good or bad.

When you don’t try, it’s easy to hope the outcome might have been great. That hope is destroyed if you do try, and it isn’t great. I think knowing that fact sheds an enormous light on why so many people don’t try, myself included. Why so many people have unfulfilled dreams, or unfinished manuscripts, or even are lonely because meeting new people might not end up being great. I had wanted to publish my Fred the Monkey comics for years before taking it to animated form in FredtheMonkey.com, but I didn’t because of “might be great.” I didn’t because it might be terrible, and the hope that it might be great seemed safer.

The problem reared its ugly head once again after I finished all the edits on this book and sat down to figure out formatting. I went through my library and looked at different books. I studied margin sizes, and font choices, and where different authors put their page numbers. I looked at cover styles, and paper weights, and deeply pondered why I preferred the “hand feel” of books that were 8.25 x 5” over 8.5 x 5.5”. I procrastinated the actual formatting process using the excuse that it seemed overly complicated, with so many options available to automate it online. It wasn’t because it was complicated (though that may be true). It was because if I picked a margin size and font and published the darn thing, what would happen to my “it might be great?”

My book will be released very soon. It might be great. It might not. You might like it. You might not. Whatever ends up happening, the reason I wrote this book was to hopefully help other people with their creative process. The truth is it might or might not even do that, I have no way of knowing for sure. What I do know is that I’m tired of wondering if – and merely hoping that – it might be great.

I’m ready to see what it is.

2 Comments

  1. Adam

    I think you’re absolutely right. When we invest time, effort, and creativity in something, it’s easier to settle for the comforting thought that it could be great than to face the harsh reality that it might not be.

    The truth, of course, is that a mediocre thing that actually exists is better than an amazing thing that doesn’t. A project shared with others, however flawed, may have a positive impact, whether great or small. An idea shared with nobody, however clever or brilliant, has no impact at all.

    As L.M. Montogomery pointed out, “After trying and winning, the best thing is trying and failing.” The worst thing is not trying at all!

    Reply
    1. JK Riki (Post author)

      Indeed! And sometimes I think trying and failing actually trumps trying and winning, just because of how much you learn from the failures. 🙂
      (Of course, it wouldn’t be fun ALL the time. The victories keep us going!)

      Reply

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