The commencement speaker at our grandson’s graduation from MIT in June was MIT alumnus Drew Houston, class of 2006 and CEO and co-founder of Dropbox, a service now used by millions around the world. Dropbox grew from the simple idea that people should have a way to access their files anywhere without relying on e-mail attachments or thumb drives.
His talk was unassuming, personal, and inspiring, which was a surprise to me since Houston is so young, granted that he is a millionaire many times over. I scribbled a few notes to share with you, but essentially, his talk was about plunging forward, not worrying about making things perfect but about having an adventure. Life has no warm-up, he said, no practice buttons and failure doesn’t matter. “You only have to succeed once.”
You can read his commencement address online at http://www.networkworld.com.
When my husband and I started our publishing business, we had no idea what we were getting into or what a complex and frustrating business it is. But it has been an adventure and many times it has been fun. As I’ve talked to other small business owners, I’ve found that for most of us, we had to take the leap and just begin and plunge forward. No warm-up, no practice button. You tackle things as you come to them.
And now as I prepare to launch my third novel, The 90s Club & the Whispering Statue, I realize the same goes for this publishing venture as well. I have had two critique groups, two editors, and three beta readers peruse the book and comment on characters, plot, writing, and other aspects of a mystery novel. I could do this indefinitely in an effort to achieve perfection.
But at some point, the author has to say “I’m finished with this book and I’m ready to move on.” On the other hand, continuing to tinker with the manuscript delays the scary risk of sending it out to meet the critics.
Better to think of it all as an adventure, a learning experience, and a step forward in my own development as a writer. What I’ve written so far is the best I could do at the time, but what will I do next time? Where will I go next? How will I improve?
At the conclusion of his talk, Houston said that his grandmother always ended their telephone calls with the word, “Excelsior,” which means “ever upward.”
I’ll end this blog the same way. Excelsior!