Dedication is something most of us are familiar with, particularly when it comes to writing books. I often read of authors in the book groups of which I’m a member on Facebook that demonstrate a high degree of dedication in achieving significant sales of their work each month. Last week I watched Adam Croft being interviewed. He maxed out his credit cards, his wife’s and even asked members of his family to help him spend more. He became a best-selling indie author (one million books sold) on Amazon; so for him it worked. I don’t think I have that kind of dedication though.
Today I witnessed another kind of dedication at the Guagemaster exhibition of model railways over at Ford in West Sussex. The layouts were spectacular, intricate and painstakingly assembled, lovingly detailed and worth more than you could probably put a price on. I spoke to one chap who had a French railway layout, correct in every detail. He told me that you needed to get everything right, and it can only be done by research and looking for the proper rolling stock, vehicles, figurines and model buildings. That struck a chord with me because of the parallel nature of our hobbies: creating something almost real through dedication, research and application. The largest display at the exhibition had twenty trains running at the same time. I tried counting them but they kept disappearing through tunnels and stopping at stations as other trains swept by. I had to ask in the end.
But there is another kind of dedication, one I came across years ago that probably dwarfs everything I’ve spoken about here. When I was a young man in the Royal Air Force, I was at a training camp in a post-graduate billet. There were eight of us in a twenty-man billet. In the single bunk where the NCO i/c usually slept was a Malaysian lad. He was a Junior Technician and not part of our group. We used to see him from time to time going through to the ablutions and we’d nod, naturally. But one day I got a chance to talk to him. I asked him where he was from. He told me Kuala Lumpa. I thought he would have lived in England so I asked if he joined the RAF over there in Malaya. He said no, that he had to come to England to do that. I thought about my time in the Merchant navy when the ship I was on did the Far East trips taking Empire Builders (Diplomatic Corps) out, and bringing immigrants back. I wondered if he had been on one of those trips. He said no. I asked him if he flew over. He said, “No — I cycled”. Cycled! It took him three months. He wanted to join the RAF and that was the only way he could afford to get here. I suppose at that time I might have felt a little superior to him because of all the immigrants I’d seen in my time on those runs and my young age: probably thought because I was British I had some kind of right to feel a little elevated. But this lad’s dedication had a telling affect on me; it left me almost gasping in shock and complete admiration. It taught me a great deal about strength of mind and determination.
So when I think about my own efforts at writing, promotion, marketing and aiming high, I wonder if I really do possess what it takes to get to the top. Has that young Malaysian youth’s dedication taught me anything? I suppose I can take comfort in the fact that I have written eleven full length novels, been traditionally published and am still at it. I hope so. Wish me luck!