If I could give this post another title I would call it “I am Burt Reynolds” and/or “What would Clint Eastwood, aka Chris Orcutt, do.” Last night just moments before bed I read Chris Orcutt’s fantastic post entitled Preparing for Success. Even as I tried to get to sleep I could not get his post out of my mind and as I laid there I started to count the ways I needed to prepare for my success as the sheep sat on the sidelines waiting for their turn to be counted.
I am going to go on and on about how much this post means to me and what it has made me wonder and what I am going to do because of reading it, but I still highly recommend you read his post for yourself, even if you don’t want to be a writer. I think this post offers a lot for anyone who is waiting for something to arrive at their door, whether it be the “Angel of Success”, the “Angel of Love” or just maybe the “Angel of UPS” to bring you a box from J Crew, or is that just me, or some other Angel.
Instead of just sitting around and waiting for success Chris Orcutt found inspiration in book form from Chin-Ning Chu, the author of Do Less, Achieve More ( that is so my kind of book title), Chu advises:
Before the Angel of Success arrives in your life, you should devote yourself to preparing your welcome for her. Polish your craft and strengthen your body to be fit so that you can do your job and enjoy success when it comes. Sharpen your mind and spirit so they are ready to face the challenges that accompany a visitation from the Angel of Success.
If you are not ready when the angel knocks, she will flee. And who knows when she will make it back around to your door again? One night in the 1960s, Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds were dining together. Clint has already become a famous movie star, but Burt was still struggling, trying to get bit parts. Burt asked Clint what he had done before he got his big break. Clint answered that he had simply “prepared myself for success.”
Those unadorned words, preparing for success, were the advice that was worth ten thousand ounces of gold to Burt Reynolds. He heard the words, understood the profound principle that they held, and went on to stardom.
Yes, I did laugh over the image of Burt and Clint dining together at a L.A. eatery and Clint spouting wisdom between bites of blood rare filet mignon and sips of smoky Scotch. I imagined Burt booking it back to his shiny fire red Camaro and scribbling Clint’s advice on a tiny notepad he kept in his leisure suits coat pocket especially for phone numbers of the ladies. I imagine that after that meeting Burt began to prepare for success in a focused Jedi Master kind of way and that soon after he got the audition for Deliverance and he was ready for what the “Angel of Success” had to offer him and because he was prepared Smokey and the Bandit came soon after. Yes, I mock Burt a little. Whether or not I appreciate Burt’s cinematic oeuvre, I do think Clint had something to teach and Burt learned it.
But what I found even more meaningful than the image of the two laconic and iconic tough guys getting all Tao Te Ching at the Topanga Canyon Chart House was reading how Chris had applied these principles to his own writing career:
Since I read that, over six months ago, I’ve been working diligently behind the scenes to prepare myself for success. I’ve beefed up this website. I’ve taken up golf. I’ve changed my diet and lost almost 20 pounds. I’ve started lifting weights again. I’ve bought myself a few tailored suits, including this fabulous Hickey Freeman number. I’ve organized my writing and my office (well, Alexas did). I’ve gotten my computers and typewriters in good working order. I’ve gotten an agent, who is getting my book read. I’ve been building a fan base. I’ve had a professional take author photos of me. And I’ve said yes to lucrative writing assignments, even though they aren’t directly relevant to my ideal career path as a novelist and screenwriter.
Truth be told, I don’t believe in angels, fairies, benevolent forces for good and/or anything else they sell at the Psychic Eye bookstore, that said, I do believe in opportunities and being prepared for them. I am not sure what the tenor of Do Less, Achieve More is and whether it is a bit new agey and promotes the idea that if you are ready the opportunity will come or if it is more pragmatic and realistic. But it is not the book I am so interested in, it is Chris’ action plan that hooked me and as soon as I read it I wanted my own.
You see, things are starting to happen, doors are starting to open and I have the second meeting with my own personal “Angel of Success” to discuss my book in early January. But after reading Chris’ essay I wondered if I am really prepared for the success and opportunity that I am working so hard to achieve.
So, I am going to break down Chris’ brilliant plan of preparation. I am going to go one by one and see what Chris did and see how I might apply these principles in my own plan of preparation. In this story Chris is Clint Eastwood and I am Burt Reynolds. Chris has the better part in this story. I guess things could be worse, I could have been Charlton Heston or Steven Seagal and I do have an impressive mustache (see picture above).
1. Beefed up website
Hmm, yes, things to do in this department. I have been procrastinating about writing a new “about me” for months. And, I have hired Eight Crazy Design to do an extreme makeover on this blog and create a couture design. And, I am preparing psychologically to reveal the name behind the pen name so that publishers can see the face behind the weasel.
2. Took up golf
No, no golf for me. I don’t imagine I will be meeting the “Angel of Success” on the links at Pebble Beach. But, is there some sport I could take up that would up my chances of literary success? Perhaps Judo, fencing, Israeli fighting, or some other man to man combat. No, I think not. That said, if what it took for me to have a book published was to wear madras shorts and an “I love Tiger” tee shirt I would so do it.
3. I’ve changed my diet and lost almost 20 pounds. I’ve started lifting weights again.
These are good things. I could lose 20 pounds and when I say that I mean that I could, I mean I could afford to lose 20 pounds and then I would be size 8 and that would be lovely. Now whether or not I could physically lose 20 pounds that is another matter all together. I do think that I could get myself to the gym if I told myself that I was going so as to prepare my self for success. I write almost 40 hours a week out of dedi
cation to this dream. So, I feel sure I could get to the gym if I convinced myself that it was in the name of the success of my book. I think I am going to download the theme for Rocky to my I-Pod. “Flying high now!”
4. I’ve bought myself a few tailored suits, including this fabulous Hickey Freeman number
I could use a few tailored suits, well maybe not suits, but I could use a couple of ensembles that I will wear when I meet my publishers and other literary events that require me to dazzle with my sense of understated style. Imogen, Make do, and Sal,do you have any suggestions on what the female version of a Hickey Freeman suit is for ladies in literature?
5. I’ve organized my writing and my office (well, Alexas did). I’ve gotten my computers and typewriters in good working order.
Definitely there is work for me to do in this department. I don’t have an office and I am really fine with that. When I had an office I never used it. I prefer to write from the discomfort of my living room sofa. But, my computer needs to be organized. When I think about beginning this task I start to feel tired, sick and in desperate need of channel surfing and carbohydrates. I need my own Alexas.
6. I’ve gotten an agent, who is getting my book read
I am working on this.
7. I’ve been building a fan base.
Well, I have been building what people in publishing world call a platform. So, I think that I could count on many of you lovely readers to buy my book when it hits the stores. At least that is what I am hoping.
8. I’ve had a professional take author photos of me
I do have the portraits of me as done by Badaude and Fifi. But, do not think that is what Chris had in mind. Well, I guess I will attempt to lose the 20 pounds and get my Hickey Freeman suits before I start shopping for a photographer.
9. And I’ve said yes to lucrative writing assignments, even though they aren’t directly relevant to my ideal career path as a novelist and screenwriter
Lucrative writing assignments? I am totally unaware that such things existed.
I am extremely motivated by Clint, I mean Chris. As I begin to prepare for my success I would appreciate any advice you have on preparing for success and what you have done/are doing or did do (yes, I as a writer am able to work in all three tenses) to prepare for your success.“Go ahead, make my day.”