Three reasons why I had to make mistakes

THURSDAY, 7 JULY 2011

The last time I was in South Africa, my mother told me my father was afraid that I was making the same mistakes as him.

I found it very interesting. I knew in what way my parents had intended the remark to be understood. I agreed with my mother, but because I had my own understanding of this particular point.

If literature is the path I should take, the way of life that I have to follow, then it can be said that I had lost my way during the last five years (and a few months). It can then be said that I have indeed made the same mistake as my father, by doing what I thought was “right” according to the standards of other people – or maybe my own standards were somewhat compromised, but that’s a story for another piece.

Does that mean that the pursuit of profit over the past half-decade in more ways than I care to count has been a waste of time? I think not. Here are the reasons:

1. I have learned how to publish my own work. This includes everything from domain registration to HTML and setting up WordPress sites to print-on-demand services like CreateSpace, CafePress and Lulu. There have also been lessons in marketing, experience on sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and dozens of lesser-known platforms that give you the opportunity to introduce yourself and exhibit your work to an audience anywhere in the world.

In short, I knew nothing, or next to nothing about these things before I started learning about them as part of the process of making money on the Internet.

2. A few years ago I wrote about how out of place I felt in the so-called World of Money. I looked at people who had money, and I envied them for the apparent ease with which they moved around in this mysterious world. It was very clear that they had mastered the right vocabulary, they knew the right actions to take to make money, and they obviously knew enough other people who possess similar talents.

In this World of Money, I felt like the somewhat frightened, definitely overwhelmed small town child without shoes who visits his street smart cousins in the Big City.

Now, more than five years after starting my pursuit of profit and financial well-being, after reading (or at least downloading and sorting) hundreds of eBooks on marketing and ways to make money, watching dozens of video tutorials, even serious investigations into the possibilities of online Poker and Forex trading, I can say with a substantial degree of confidence that I no longer feel uncomfortable, frightened or overwhelmed in the World of Money. More than that, I can see that what many of the people who had previously so impressed me with their supposed knowledge and expertise in the World of Money actually do every day is to just throw the dice, shut their eyes and hope for the best.

3. By the end of 2005, my inspiration for producing new material had begun to dry up. There was not much more I could or wanted to say about the many issues I had touched upon in my Personal Agenda project, as well as the six months of writing that had followed its completion. Of course there were other topics I could have written about, but not any that had inspired me sufficiently, or about which I had had enough confidence to write about.

The many failures of the past five years and the few (but significant) successes, as well as the wide range of subjects on which I have read, and even people whom I have met through online forums and about whom I read, in retrospect, were exactly what I needed as a producer of literature.

Should I therefore have looked the other way in January 2006 when my eye caught a glimpse of that first of many ads that had wanted to sell me some instant wealth product? I sometimes wish I did. I sometimes wish I didn’t waste so much time on so much research and so many projects that ultimately rendered no dividend – except for a cryptic side note that simply said, “This doesn’t work – or I can’t make it work.”

Prior to January 2006, I used to be confident about my choices; I regretted very few things that I did or did not do.

It is now clear that the last five years were a good education. And in the end, by making mistakes similar to mistakes my father had made perhaps thirty or forty years ago, I’ve learned a few valuable lessons.

I’m even tempted to say I’m a better person because of it.

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