If the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, as Thomas Jefferson said, then the price of independence is eternal diligence. But do most people know the difference?
Freedom is, after all, the absence of oppression—in simple terms, nobody telling you what to do. But independence is far more difficult to achieve—it is the ability to be self-sustaining and not dependent on others. We were free from British power once we won the Revolutionary War in 1783, but we were not truly independent of British power and influence until the War of 1812.
So it is with writers nowadays, particularly those of us who self-publish on Kindle, Kobo, Apple, and the like. We are free from the dictates of publishers and editors telling us what to write, how to write it and when to publish–but we are totally dependent on our own efforts when it comes to publicity, promotion, sales and distribution. And when it comes to that, the job is endless. It is exactly like having a business in which you’re designer, manufacturer, distributor, sales and publicity all at once. If you do not want to be what the Japanese used to call a salary man—or woman—and you want to live life on your own terms, you have to hustle.
The danger of eternal diligence is that you forget the reason why you’re independent to begin with, which is to create on your own terms. You must always remember that hustling, or in the writers’ world, social media and publicity, are a means to an end—and that end is to write the way you want to for the audience that you have in in mind.
That same lesson can be applied to all facets of life. If you really want to be independent, you can never rely on anybody but yourself, which is exceedingly hard to do—you have to do everything and do it well. So yes, I don’t subscribe to the 4 -Hour Work Week, the 4-Hour Body, the 4-Hour Chef or the 4-Hour anything. That is just a hoax. But if you succeed at achieving independence, you will be truly your own person, beholden to no one—and the closest thing to God that any human can be.