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Monday, February 20, 2012

Star Wars, Riding Bikes, and the Magic of Focus

My son loves Star Wars. So on Saturday, I took him to see "Episode I: The Phantom Menace" in 3D. Only seven-years-old, he babbled through the first ten minutes, despite my constant shushing, because of his excitement. As we sat there, it struck me that the first Star Wars movie came out in 1977--when I was just seven years old. George Lucas is a genius to create a franchise that lives on in a new generation. And it isn't just the movies. My son has the light sabers. He's been a Star Wars figure for Halloween. And we own two of the three movies in the recent prequel. Cha-ching, George.

I watched the movie with my son and found myself cheering for little Anakin in his pod racer. Of course, most of the movie depends on special effects over the quality of the dialogue. The freaky alien creatures, the space ships, the strange planets, and the Jedi's ability to harness "The Force" and move things. But as I sat there, a line from the movie struck me as oddly profound. Obi Wan's Mentor utters: "Your focus becomes your reality." Yes, Master Qui-Gon Jinn, it does.

Lately, I've found myself bumping along the rutted road of everyday life just going through the motions. Tending to my responsibilities, but in a passionless fog. I've focused on the monotony of each day rather than its beauty and the potential it possesses. Losing my focus on the opportunities around me and the incredible spirits inside the people I've surrounded myself with has left me cranky, unmotivated, and pretty crappy company.

As writers, we all go through lulls in our confidence. The struggle to get published seems to often be a sisyphean task. I build up the confidence and energy to send out query letters. I blog into the ethereal thing called the internet in the hopes of sharing my words. I read, read, and read more about the industry. Even since I began the quest of having "The Beauty of Grace" published, the industry has changed immensely. While before I knew the formula: query, query, and keep querying. Persistence will pay off. Now, e-readers have opened up a chasm that not only provides an alternative to traditional publishing, but also increases the number of authors out there. I see this as both a good and a bad thing. Such competition forces writers to polish their work until they can see their reflection, but it also can push good writing to the bottom of the fish net because the author sucks at self-promotion and marketing.

But today I decided to heed the words of Master Qui-Gon Jinn and shift my focus not from the size of the mountain before me, but to its peak. To focus on my goal rather than the struggle to reach it. To look up and keep climbing. Or, to the heed the words of another great man (my Daddy) that were uttered thirty years ago: "Baby, wherever you look, the bike's gonna go. Don't look down. Look to where you're headed."

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