Storming the Castle of Success

Nothing in my life has ever been easy.

At times, I get down about that.

Imagine success is a castle.  For some people, the drawbridge just opens and in they go.  They are welcomed with rainbows, unicorns, leprechauns, fuzzy bunny rabbits, and juggling clowns.  Nice clowns, not scary ones.  The ones who make you balloon animals.

I’m not knocking them.  I’m sure they’re good people.  I’m sure they were all qualified for entry into the castle.  Even if they’re not, I believe success is something that everyone should have.  Them being less successful does not cause me to become more successful, so there’s no point to being displeased with them.  I just wish them a happy journey and tell them to say hi to the leprechauns for me.

Then there’s me.  When I knock on the door to the Castle of Success, out come the orcs, the dragons, the flame sword wielding dark knights, the zombies, the bow men, the pike men, the pointy stick men, the pots of boiling oil and the catapults.

Bodiam Castle, East Sussex, England, 11 October 2005

As I stare out in the sea of evil that stands between me and the Castle of Success, I can’t help but think, “What is wrong with me?”

And then the questions pour in:

“Where did I go wrong?”

“What could I have done differently?”

“Was there a point in my life where I was blind?  Did I miss a nice, clear path to success?  One that did not involve orcs, dragons, et al?  What mistake did I make to cause me to veer from this path?”

“Look at all these damn orcs, dragons, monsters, and so on.  Is it too much?  Should I just give up and walk away?”

“Surely, as tough as things are, there are many people who have it worse than I do.  They wish they had a chance to fight the orcs, the dragons, the monsters, et al.  They’re still stuck in the countryside, wishing they were in the general vicinity of the Castle of Success.”

Inside the Castle of Success, there is a book I have written.

I miss the days when I was young and able to stay up 48 hours straight writing term papers fueled by nothing but Monster Energy Drinks and feel fine.  Doing that today would leave me feeling like I got hit by a Mac Truck.

There’s no more “I’ll leave it till the last minute then stay up all night.”  There’s only “be responsible and do a little bit every day.”

The burdens of life settle in.  The Castle of Success is right there within walking distance.  The orcs and dragons are waiting to fight me.  They’re getting impatient, checking their watches and wondering if they should just give up.  Maybe I’ll never manage to take them on.

I could stop and lie down.  This spot on the grass seems comfy.  Yes, I could fight the orcs and win, or I could become an orc’s lunch and end up losing my nice comfy spot on the grass.  Decisions, decisions.

One orc gives up and cracks open a book.  Another watches “The Walking Dead Orcs” on his Orc-Pad.

I hate Orcs.  More than Yetis.

And so I sit down and wait.  And I stare at the orcs, dragons, knights with fire swords, zombies, bow men, hot oil droppers, etc etc and I wonder if things will ever click in my life so that I can find a way to take them all on…i.e. a strategy for working on a book in small increments every day that will eventually pay off.

I get up one morning and decide “Today is the day I’ll work hard on my book.”  By nightfall, 500 unexpected occurrences happen that draw my attention away from anything having remotely to do with writing.

And then when I do get a chance to write…I criticize myself like I’m a super-charged Robert Ebert.

Will I ever get over my perfectionism?  Will I ever realize that not every TV, movie, book, piece of entertainment is 100 percent perfect?  That I just need to get my ideas on paper the best I can, get them proofread, edited, into a book, and then swing for the fences?

I look to my left and my right.  People are just strolling all carefree into their respective Castles of Success.  Part of me assumes everything is so easy for them.  Another part, a better part, reminds me that inside every person is a battle we know nothing about – that inside people who seem to have it all together there might, in fact, be a struggle we’ve never seen, nor do we want to.

Maybe it only looks like they’re being greeted by leprechauns and bunnies.  Maybe the leprechauns are crazy.  Maybe the bunnies have sharp teeth.  We only see successful people in the best possible light.  We have no idea what they went through.  We shouldn’t bash them.  Bringing other people down will never raise us up.  “I’m doing so poorly because others are doing so well” is an illogical fallacy.

I need to disregard them.  Whether its easy for them or not is not my concern.  My concern is the fact that every accomplishment I’ve ever made has not come easy.  It has come by fighting orcs, dragons, and zombies for what I do have.

Knowledge is power and knowing that the orcs and dragons must be fought to reach the Castle makes me stronger.  I must stop lamenting my lot in life, quit playing the “woe is me game,” and stop hoping that the Castle of Success will magically come to me.

I know I never get anywhere without a fight and I must fight my way to the Castle.  Worse, I must fight myself, which is no easy feat, for I am harder on myself than the orcs and so on.

So I forget all that and focus on my personal orcs.  And dragons.  And monsters, zombies, flame sword nights, guys with boiling pots of oil, and also the purple purple Indian arm burn rubbers.  I hate those guys the most.

I may never leave my comfy spot on the grass.  Part of me says forget these orcs.  The other part says if dreaming about fighting the orcs is what gets you through the day then so be it, even if you never leave the grass.

I’ve run out of things to say.   I must fight these orcs and find my way into..the Castle of Success.

I am Bookshelf Q. Battler.  I read books.  I try to write novels.  I fight Yetis.  I have 3.5 readers.  And I hate orcs.

Bodiam Castle Image Courtesy of Flickr User Phillip Capper via a Creative Commons License

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9 thoughts on “Storming the Castle of Success

  1. Success that’s been fought for is so much better than success handed out on a plate. When I was at university, I wasn’t part of the historical ‘in crowd’ who were given all the opportunities – jobs, scholarships, publishing projects. Getting my own career going and earning a repute with publishers, alone, was a struggle. Today? I’m still writing and publishing. The one-time Chosen People are notable for their absence…

  2. I really liked this post, and agree with most of it…except one thing. I don’t think anyone is just handed success. I don’t think the drawbridge just opens up for anyone. It may seem like that, but behind every success there is hard work and diligence. It’s easy to think that other people have natural advantages, but this is a trap…we’re all more or less equal. Some people just work harder, or learn work more efficiently. Ultimately we all have to take responsibility for where we are in life though…

    • Agreed. And I don’t think that way. I know in this post I’m all over the place. There are times when I feel like people who find their success were able to get there because they were able to put all their time and energy into the fight, whereas I feel like I have an unusually high level of additional crap hoisted onto me that most don’t have to deal with. But then I try to remember that when we see successful people, we only see them in the best possible light and we don’t see all the crap they had to deal with. Few are lucky enough to never experience any crap.

      In other words, before I fight the orcs, I must deal with a bunch of crap. Then I’m so tired I lie down and allow the orcs to tap dance on my head.

      • Lol I gotcha. Very true: we see successful people only in their best situations. Often there was a huge battle with orcs they had before that! Press on, friend. Fight those orcs and storm your castle!

  3. isilkemp says:

    Reblogged this on Dakota Kemp and commented:
    Thoughts from a fellow author/blogger. Bookshelf Q. Battler speaks for a lot of people with this post, and it’s all steeped in his signature, entertaining style.

  4. Rellick says:

    Greater satisfaction comes when one battles for it. Good read.

  5. […] of the beautiful people who can charm an agent or a publisher into swinging open the gate to the Castle of Success for […]

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