There’s been several things that I have realized this year. Some of these things probably seem quite ridiculous to most people. But for me they are near revelation.
At the start of the year, many people wrote to me and asked me how it was that I got my writing published on such a fine site as LewRockwell.com. I know now that I was just lucky and just so happened to be in the right place at the right time. You see, before Lew Rockwell approved one of my articles, I made at least 100 submissions to various magazines, websites, etc, all over the United States over these last 3 years, and only received one rejection letter from the entire lot — mostly I was ignored. I don’t really have too much of a problem getting stuff published in Japan, but many people in the West seem like they could care less about Japan. I guess that’s understandable.
The most humbling experience was having what I think is an excellent article rejected by some underground San Francisco Punk magazine and then seeing the same magazine a few months later with some articles that look like they were written by school kids. But, I guess you have to play to the audience in some respects. I’m not being disrespectful to those magazines or to those writers, I like them. But, like I said, it is indeed a humbling experience.
So how did I get my first article published on LewRockwell.com? Well, I figured it out day before yesterday. My first article wasn’t especially well written at all — you might say that about all my articles actually — in fact, my first article was poorly written. But I think my premise was good. I submitted that article on December 30, 2003. It was an after-thought. I had submitted the same article to many places, only to be ignored. “What the hell.” I thought. I liked LRC so I submitted. I couldn’t believe it when, within 60 minutes, it was approved by Lew Rockwell himself! I was on top of the world. I still am. It’s funny, but at that time, I didn’t even really know what a Libertarian was. I had just found myself reading LRC many times as I often found articles that made such good common sense at this site.
So how can a new writer get published? Think about it, if you are an aspiring writer and you want your work published, when should you submit it? Well, it seems to me that the best time would be to do so when the “real writers” are busy not writing. When is that? Christmas and New Years, of course. It makes sense, doesn’t it? “Real writers” write for a living. When it is a holiday, I would imagine that they’d want a break just like anyone else. I hear that professional chefs rarely like to cook when they are not at work. Perhaps it’s something like that. Places like LRC and everywhere else for that matter need quality and different ideas all the time and every day of the year. Unknown people like me need to grab the chance when everyone else is sleeping.
That’s the way of the world. The writers who have already made it, don’t need to submit during the holidays. But the people who run these sites need interesting material every day regardless of the season. So if you are an aspiring writer, you should be submitting to anywhere and everywhere right now. Sure you are busy with holiday considerations and family obligations — but so is everyone else. If you want to make it and get your foot in the door, you have to take the chance when the timing is most opportunistic. You must overcome the daily work-load and you must make your own breaks. Gary North is a great writer who often writes about things like this — I often look to his articles for inspiration.
I enjoy writing. It is fun. But I do not consider myself a writer. I’m just some guy living in Japan. That might sound cool and special — I think it is. But I have always believed I was special. Don’t you consider yourself special? You should. Everyone has something special and experiences that are uniquely theirs. Why don’t you try to share them?
Another thing I realized is that my writings will not change the world. This didn’t come as such a shock to me as I had already been beaten down so very many times from working in mass-media broadcasting. You see, we cannot control what other people think — we can only control what we think ourselves. There is no one that you can definitely satisfy excepting yourself. So there’s no point in worrying too much about satisfying others. One can only try to stay true to their heart and do what they think is right — if others will accept that, then that’s good — and perhaps a sign of talent. But many will not — it can’t be helped. You can only strive to satisfy yourself. You could be the most logical and precise person in the world, and still there will be those who will criticize you or tell you that you are wrong. Forget about useless criticism. Write what you want. Write for yourself. If you are satisfied with what you write, then that’s all anyone could ever ask for.
There was a time, in summer 2004, that I was under too much pressure as I received hate mail and even death threats for some article I had written on LRC. I regret that I panicked and asked Mr. Rockwell if I could remove my e-mail address from my articles. Thankfully, he refused. If I couldn’t stand the heat, then I suppose I shouldn’t write — I imagine that this was his reasoning. And it makes sense. There are many things — of course many that I do not even know about yet — that must be overcome if I am to become a well-known writer. It comes with the territory. If you do not wish to have hate mail, then don’t write. Any form of “art” should elicit an emotional response from the audience. The worst fate for a writer (or artist or anyone in mass media) would be if people didn’t care. If you cannot evoke an emotional response, then you are dead.
The last thing I understand is that there are people who just don’t “get it.” I don’t know why. There are people who refuse to see the truth that is as plain as day in front of their faces. Perhaps it is because of insecurity or pride, but they refuse to admit they were wrong. It’s sad. They even refuse to hear the opposing side’s arguments and consider them for their merits. There are even those who will kill in order so that they will not have to face the truth. These are the worst of the bunch. Only a fool would think that they already know the answers to everything. I certainly don’t — and I would love for someone to teach me “The Truth.” For finding “The Truth” is a very high mountain to climb and I think that if you wish to do so, you will spend the rest of your life climbing that mountain — and you still will never reach the top.
A good example I can think of is the question of the existence of God. Now, I have seen many things, and I have witnessed an “exorcism” (for lack of a better term) and I have seen my own daughter miraculously recover from a deadly cancer when the doctors said she had 2 months to live (that was 11 years ago). I know that there is a God — just as I know that I have a knee — I have “seen” the hand of God. But there are many people who say that God doesn’t exist. I find this amusing. Why? Because people who have been on this earth for a generation, maybe two, will say they know that there is no God. These good folks have been alive for a mere 30 to 60 years and they think already know the answer to questions that man has been asking for thousands of years. It seems a bit absurd, when you think about it doesn’t it? The question that much greater minds than ours, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, etc., asked many, many years ago these people know the answer to in their 40 years of wisdom on this planet. I find that incredibly foolish and, quite frankly, laughable.
So, I suppose I could say that the most important thing I’ve realized from this one year of writing for LRC is that it should be a learning experience and it should be fun — for me. There is nothing more that any writer could hope for. If I can bring enjoyment to a few readers, then that’s all icing on the cake. If this exercise is satisfying for me and if I am happy doing it, then I will continue. The day it becomes a chore or a heartache, is the day I will stop. And you know what? If I stopped, I wouldn’t be missed. There are so very many talented people who could take over. But there are only a few who will make the effort to do so. They will make the effort — the effort to succeed — and they will rise above the others.
I know I quoted Diana Ross before, but I think this quote should never be forgotten by any writer or artist:
“Show business is not success — it is survival.”
And, after all, isn’t that what life is all about? Surviving and living for yourself. Living without regret. Taking the opportunity that each day offers and doing your best with each. Each of us must measure our priorities and make the best situation by balancing each one that makes a happy and contented life for each of us for as long as we can.
That’s my biggest realization: Live without regret.
Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers [send him mail] was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He has worked as an independent writer, producer, and personality in the mass media for nearly 30 years.