I have never met him.
I've never done business with him in any fashion.
But I love the man.
Have, in fact, loved him for three weeks.
Being a published author is hard. Being a self-published author is ridiculously hard. It is not unlike standing in Times Square shouting, “Notice me!” while the other million people around you shout the same thing, at the same time. You know you're special. You know you have a gift. But how can you possibly get anyone to notice you with all those other people around? How can you make your voice rise above the collective masses? John Locke figured it out-- but that's not why I love the guy. It isn't that he did what others couldn't. It isn't that he did what I hope to one day do--sell a million books on Amazon. The reason is actually tied to why I love my mom.
My mother is a strong woman, but that has not always been a good thing. In my eighteen years growing up, I lived in five states, attended ten schools, and decorated thirty-some-odd bedrooms with my limited collection of tasteless junk. During those years I was a witness to four of my mom's six marriages (because one happened before I was born, and one happened when I wasn't looking). So I know what it feels like to have the things I love torn from my life, and, as the perpetual New Kid, I know all to well what it feels like to be in an enormous crowd, and feel utterly alone.
Though I'm not a fan of the fallout and destruction my mother left in her wake, I have always been impressed by her strength and resilience. I have no memories of her looking worried or defeated. Even in the midst of the hardest trials, she always seemed to have it together. And anyone who knows my mom will tell you, she always did what she was going to do, and no one was going to stop her.
Thankfully, God took the heart of that strong willed woman and changed it. Now, I'm happy to say, she is using her strength to be a faithful wife of almost twenty years, a trustworthy daughter to her aging mom, and an immovable rock for our entire family. She is doing the hardest thing she has ever done, and I have never been more proud.
John Locke has this kind of strength. When the world was telling him, “You're less than nobody. You're not even a published author," John refused to listen. When bad reviews started coming in saying, “This book reads like it was written by a boy in junior high school,” he refused to allow those voices to define him. It takes great strength to stand against a raging current, but like in the example of my mom, strength alone does not produce good results. I don't admire John Locke because he is strong, but rather, because he uses his strength to help others. Instead of seeing all those other struggling authors as competition, John chooses to see them as fellow shipmates sharing in a grand adventure! Rather than being yet another voice screaming, “Notice me!" John is shouting, “Notice THEM!”. How cool is that?
That is why I love John Locke and my mom. Through their examples, I know what true strength looks like. It is selfless and confident, noble and true, and is not swayed by public opinion. But most importantly, it does not seek it's own ends. If I emulate a strength like that, I believe I will not only find a greater and more lasting success than I could have ever dreamed, in the end, I won't have to share in my success alone. And, this New Kid wants that more than you could possibly know.
John Michael Hileman
Author of VRIN: ten mortal gods, and the newly released supernatural thriller Messages.