Last week, when I realized it was time for people to begin zipping off to RWA I actually breathed a sigh of relief. I've been 40 pounds overweight for two years. I exercise at least four times a week, diet (most days) and obsess over old clothes I can't fit into, but I still can't lose the weight. Not having to be mad at myself for being overweight was such a relief that I wondered...
When do I let go of this and just start buying my clothes from Omar The Tentmaker...when do I quietly let go and let life go on...
Which made me segue into wondering...are there times when writers should let go?
I used to have the ambition of being a New York Times bestseller. Never made it. I wanted to make great gobs of money...that didn't happen either. LOL But I do have a very nice following of readers. Enough to make me feel that my stories touch people. :)
And that prompts me to ask the question...
Is it okay to be just "good" and not be one of the best? Is it okay to not make the lists? Or is it time to just go quietly into that good night? As authors, how do we measure success? Now that making the NYT list isn't what it used to be, and our benchmarks are skewed by a plethora of $.99 bundles, what should we be focused on?
I'm thinking kinda deep today! LOL
I've never written for editors or chased trends. (Though it's true that I've EDITED books based on editor comments...that's a have to. LOL) My guiding source of inspiration has usually been "what I wanted to read." And, yes, I fell into a real boom of writing about babies. LOL!!!
Still, readers responded to those books.
By today's standards, though, the following that was a "nice" size, back before ebooks and Indie authors, isn't a number anybody's jumping up and down for anymore.
So do I quit? I mean, really? I'm now small compared to my competition who are leaving me in the dust. I'm not a contender. Not close to being a contender. Am I not just wasting time?
And if I quit...what do I say to readers? Isn't bailing almost like deserting the readers who faithfully followed me for two DECADES?
When I really thought all this through, in my heart of hearts I knew that everybody has a place. Every BOOK has a place. True, the place of some of my first books in my career was to teach me how to write (LOL) but that's an important place too.
When authors talk about following our hearts, writing books of our heart, there's sometimes an air of rebellion to it. But is it really rebellion to sense your place in the grand scheme of things, walk over to it and own it?
You might not make billions of dollars, but there's a readership out there looking for you, for your books. The TIMES or USA TODAY lists might never pick you up. But a lonely widow might. Or a teenager. Or a housewife. Or a woman on the beach who just wants a break from her life and to be swept away in another (cooler...LOL) life.
Right now, money is tight, jobs are difficult, raising children a full-time job. Every time a tired or lonely or desperate-for-a-break reader picks up your book and finds a few stress-free hours...you've fulfilled your calling.
So, the next time you don't make a list, don't sell enough books to pay for your cover, feel like a failure when your friends can afford three beach trips each year with their over-abundant royalties...think of that reader.
You might not have made a lot of money, but you fulfilled your purpose. And isn't that really why you got into this profession? To entertain? To tell your stories?
Happy Monday...and Happy Reading