What Are You Doing to Build Sweat Equity?
I love Habitat for Humanity's concept of sweat equity, where low income family's chosen to have a house built are required to pour 350 hours of their own labor (friends and family can help, but not too much) into both their own and other's houses. In addition, they pay a mortgage on a home sold to them at cost. The idea is that the beneficiaries of the program will appreciate and tend well something that has cost them so much of themselves.
An aspiring novelist must build sweat equity as well. Though mentors and critique partners may provide valuable assistance, many hundreds of hours are needed to hone the voice, develop the craft, and glean enough information about the business to have a shot at breaking in. Unlike Habitat, however, the writer must do all this on faith, with no guarantee of (with daunting odds against, in fact) achieving her goal. Instead, she writes and writes, edits and reshapes, submits and all too often fails, building sweat equity toward a dream so powerful that even an occasional, tantalizing whiff of its aroma motivates her.
Though shelter is a basic human need, the world owes no one his or her own home. Likewise, it cares not one whit, nor does it owe anybody, the self-actualization of a published novel. So that means those of us who chase that goal have only our work, our will, our determination, and whatever talent we've been given to tell the type of stories we're inspired to write. Then we sit back and pray that other people will consider them worthy of exchange for money.
So what are you doing today (not next weekend or when the kids are older) to build sweat equity in your dream? How many hours will you work toward that goal this week?