For the hundredth blog post, Mathew Biggin is guest blogging about finding the courage to take the plunge. You can view his portfolio, and find out more about his work and world here.
TAKING THE PLUNGE
Last week I had the great privilege of travelling up to Finchley to attend a book launch and signing. The event marked the debut novel of B.B. Vos (Ben), a charming and loquacious new author who was kind enough to write a lovely message in my copy despite the fact we hadn't met before.
The night was a great achievement for him, as he launched the book he'd toiled for so long over. It, like most books, was a labour of love for Ben and was very personal to him as a man, as well as an author.
The book The Teeth of Beasts is a crime fiction novel about Jewish gangsters in 1930's London and is hopefully the first of many offerings from this new wunderkind.
Anyway, the whole event got me thinking about how important it is as writers to follow our dreams. To follow through with work. I'm as guilty as the next wordsmith of coming up with reams and reams of ideas, but not following them through to fruition. I guess a lot of that comes down to the fear factor. Writers, I suppose like most 'artists', are petrified of failure, or at least perceived failure. It's easy to give up on something before you've started, that way you never find out whether it is any good or not - and more importantly, you never have to deal with people not liking it.
But as writers I think that it is important not to be afraid of failure, and it's the same with all artists. Art is such a subjective medium that it is impossible to create anything without some people disliking it. You can't please everyone, but you can try to please the people who matter, and that's what counts.
It reminds me of a quote by Jon Hamm of Mad Men fame, who once prudently observed "It's not only acceptable to fail, it's par for the course. You must fail in order to succeed." What a wise old sage he is. But it's very true. Sometimes we just have to take a leap of faith.
Which brings me back, forgive the segue, to Ben. If Ben had given up, or been scared of failure, or wanted everyone to like his work (particularly with how niche it is) then he would doubtless have been scared away before he'd even started. At the very least I don't think he'd have published it, he'd have kept it for his eyes only, hidden away from the world, never risking showing it to anybody.
As writers I think we (and certainly I) can learn a lot from Ben's example. He was not working as a writer at the time of starting the novel, but he had the passion, bloody-mindedness and application to nurture his idea and help it blossom from a tiny seed into a completed work of fiction. More impressively still, it's written in a mixture of Hebrew/Yiddish and English, but with a handy reference key for those (like me) who don't read a jot of Hebrew/Yiddish.
Ben followed his dreams and he got his reward, a completed work of art that he can be very proud of. Hopefully this will inspire him to write the next and the next. That first step is always the hardest, stepping out into the world, putting your balls on the line and taking the plunge into the great unknown. So congratulations to Ben, he's accomplished something many of us harbour aspirations of doing but are too afraid to take that plunge. Let's follow Ben's lead and dive in to the pool.
The Teeth of Beasts by B.B. Vos is available now on Amazon kindle. You can get in touch with Mathew Biggin by clicking his name.