Beating the Odds and Finding My Own Kind of Success

I wanted to write, not make money. I had all those ideas and characters which I needed to express, to give them life and a voice.

When I was young I was very confused and at the same time challenged and afraid by my own uniqueness. No one ever really taught me to do anything else but what society wanted you to do. Though perhaps unintentional, conditioning took place early in life through family roles, television, school and societal norms in general.

On the television, I used to see those images of women that looked almost perfect, scenes of young people looking clean, pristine, and the embodiment of cool. When you gaze upon the screen at a young age you immediately aspire to look like those cool people. Even at a very young age, I knew that I was nothing like them. At that tender age, I felt like a lesser person feeling frightened and repelled by my own uniqueness, my weird needs to be or do exactly the opposite of what was portrayed as desirable or even normal, my own inability to aspire to be the role models that were put out there for the youngsters to model themselves on their image.

I always had only one very different need and wish – mainly to read books and to attempt to copy those intriguing and often complicated stories about human uniqueness and to create the amazing characters that I was aware I was already hosting under my hat. I had a need for ‘different types’, not ordinary, obedient characters. Being young, one still wishes to be a part of society, of a peer group, to be accepted as an equal – that was one call, but it seemed to me that whatever I did I couldn’t fit in in a way other young people did. I always heard that other call, the call for something deeper, fairer, for the truth or even some esoteric experience.

What I was taught as a child was that I have to be a certain way or aspire to a certain goal, otherwise I would never be successful. The mere idea that you were not going to be successful was horrifying, especially if your family put pressure on you and mapped out your way, where success was measured by social and material status according to the current parameters of society. I simply couldn’t see myself in any of those professions that would award me with lots of money for doing things that I couldn’t have cared less about.

Every person, literally everyone told me that I would not succeed as a writer as one never does. They would say that there were very few who succeeded. No, they wouldn’t mention outstanding names of classic literature because they died young and penniless, they would mention contemporary writers who wrote books I never read anyway. I cared about real literature, about classics, about complicated stories wanting to write something meaningful and deep that leaves a lasting impact on the reader. I was told I would never succeed which translated into – You will never make any money.

I wanted to write, not make money. I couldn’t care less about money, I had all those ideas and characters which I needed to express, to give them life and a voice.

And that’s how I started writing. No one approved.

But I grew a bit older and I started understanding further the ways of society and its conditioning. The people who make money are the only worthwhile members of the society, and such a thought wasn’t a part of my psychological makeup. For me a more natural way of being was to create, not to turn people into commodities, calculating how much I could make on each of them if they bought my books.

In February, my eighth book was published, Dethroned. I gave so many copies as presents, and friends said that I was silly giving a book without charging a fair fee for it. They pointed out that I spent many hours and shouldn’t treat my labour without due respect. My labour is a labour of love even after ten books that I have written.

You can buy my books online or in bookstores but those that I buy, I buy them mainly to give them to those who would like to read but somehow can’t get it due to various reasons. I don’t squeeze myself into mainstream parameters, for I think that life is one gifted experience where we collect different stories and encounter characters where exchange happens by all methods. An exchange doesn’t have to be just goods for money, I knew that and kept on my own path that brought me to the place where I am now – creating without expectation and somehow my wealth has been growing.

The reason I share this story is because I feel that there are many young writers or creative people out there who feel the same way, they feel like misfits or different in a negative way just because of their uniqueness as they see their uniqueness as their major flaw that is separating them from what they want to be or achieve.

Our society is structured rigidly, leaning to support material success that comes mainly through materialistic pursuits, not so much through creative ones where the unique individual is expressing their art of life.

I have always felt that society is training us from a young age to function in a certain way so that the ruling structure of society can benefit from an obedient member. Therefore, I opted in life, at an earlier age perhaps unconsciously and later consciously, that my creativity and uniqueness was an essential ingredient for my well-being and health, and I led myself in blind faith, believing that if I did what I wanted to do, somehow everything would fall into place, that I would be saved by my muse and my own truth.

In my latest book, I put my main characters through that mill, grinding their bones into dust, in order to help them to find or lose themselves. My characters are strong and capricious and it certainly comes from my own psyche.

My philosophy of living authentically and going against the grain is more than evident in Dethroned, because not only are the main characters strong individuals but even the smaller roles are filled with unique and boisterous personalities.

Even though fate often offered seemingly easier solutions and paths, they pressed on their own journey to find their answers, and some were hidden on the other side of the world. And as for myself, I live in accordance to my inner rhythm as I could never dance to the music of societal norms. Whenever someone tells me that my characters are strong, unique or simply weird, I reply ‘yes, I know they are’.

For me, success is a spiritual experience and reward; money we can gain and lose, and the pleasure of having material things doesn’t go as deep as the satisfaction of being exactly the way you want to be.

I chose to be a writer many years ago regardless of the many who jumped on me instantly convincing me that I wouldn’t succeed, that I wouldn’t make it.

So what if some of them nowadays maybe have more money than I, still, I wouldn’t want to do it any other way.

Authenticity, freedom, and uniqueness don’t have a price, they are like a gift – a gift that can be discovered on a deeper level, perhaps a soul level, which is the place where real wealth lies – self-contentment, accomplishment, inner peace and the feeling of finding our own deepest purpose.

An Excerpt from ‘Dethroned’

(Chapter III Brothers in Arms, 1985-1995)

When Gregor left, Friar Marag examined the ashes: the rifle butt had gone completely while other bits in the ashes were obviously pats of a rifle and that would be evident even to a small child. He waited a while; when the iron had cooled down, he collected all the pieces and wrapped them in an old blanket which he took from the dormitory, he tied it up with a long rope and took it to the church cemetery. When he covered the hole where he had laid the remnants of the weapon with dirt and dead leaves, he turned around to check once again that no one, except the cypresses, witnessed his deeds; he met the calm eyes of his superior, Friar Dondi.

Friar Dondi said not a word, but patiently stood there waiting for Friar Marag to tell him the story – ‘What was it that he had just buried in the church cemetery?’

“Friar Dondi, please, for God’s sake, please, do not stand in our way.”

“Whose way?”

“We are making history, this church of ours bled for too long, this nation bled and moaned throughout history, this is our opportunity to be who we are again.”

“Are we going to be what you envisioned us to be? How would you justify your efforts and deeds when God calls? What you have just done is a deed criminally entangled with the fallen ones, you are giving them your power.”

“Friar Dondi, I am helping our people and flock to get back to their roots, to root out the Devil who presented himself as the Communist Party and the aggressor. They oppressed, they tyrannised this nation for decades, if not for centuries.”

“Those who come as false teachers and prophets have been the instruments of darkness, the accusers must criticise and put down in order to feel good about their own misdeeds. Think long and deep about my advice: from now on do everything that is in your power to make your future creations lead to the resurrection and life of your soul.” Friar Dondi said and left Friar Marag in the cemetery cloaked in twilights: a deep grey sky, long dark shadows of cypresses and dark-grey tombstones.

Night fell on the church, the cypresses, and the cemetery lightly, as it falls on any other day in these seemingly peaceful surroundings.

A few days later Friar Dondi went to the Serbian Orthodox part of the town’s cemetery, where the late wife of the respectable Dr. Odak, and the daughter of his old friend, Milovan Tesla, was buried. He read in the papers that an unknown sniper, while she was crossing the street, shot her. Upon reading it he knelt in front of the altar and prayed incessantly.

Evil has no nationality.

Please click HERE to find Dethroned on Amazon.

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