So today I want to talk about success.
And what makes a book successful when it is unleashed upon the unsuspecting world. Like a vulture.
Can you sense I am writing this piece from a slightly stressed out place?
Cos I am.
Basically because I have suddenly realised that my book is coming out soon, like really soon, and there is a lot to do, so much to organise, and I am kind of freaking out!
But what I actually want to write right now is a positive piece, not an 'author achieves their dreams and then complains about the side effects in numerous posts on the internet'.
I wanted to examine my feelings, and then try and move past them.
I want to try and feel better!
Basically I’ve been listening to the First Time Podcast (which is utterly wonderful and inspiring!), and more specifically the interview that closed out their first season of the show, which has inspired me to take a good hard look at myself, at my current stressed out, frazzled disturbed self, and ask this question:
Why did you start to write in the first place?
So that’s what I’m thinking about today.
Why did I want to do this? Why was I so utterly desperate to be on this scary journey?
For me, I think it always comes back to stories.
I love stories with everything I have inside me, and I want to think about them, and imagine them, and create them. I want to do that all day long. And never stop.
I LOVE STORIES.
I don’t think I ever wrote for any other reason.
Or at least, I didn’t, way back at the beginning.
I remember back then I used to say if someone would let me, I would create movies and that would be just as good, it was never about words or books.
These days I don’t know if that is true anymore, these days it is definitely about books. It is so hardcore all about the books.
But at the heart of it, it is about the stories themselves I suppose. It is about dreaming up things that excite and inspire me, and ultimately, make me happy.
That is why I wanted to write.
So my next hard question to direct at myself is this:
What is success for you?
I have mentioned this before, (or maybe I mentioned it to a friend face to face and have never written it here before, I dunno and I ain’t gonna check!) but one thing that has surprised me the absolute most since becoming an author with a book on the road to publication, is that I am GREEDY. And ambitious. And hungrier for this than I have ever been for anything I've ever wanted before.
So success for me is a pretty big and hard question.
After achieving my long time dream of signing a publishing contract, my new dream is just unbelievably huge, and it involves a million stories, lined up on my shelves, all in print, all able to be held between my hands. It is a dream I am HUNGRY for, with every part of myself, in a way that surprises me, because I’ve never been an ambitious person.
Or maybe I’ve never found a dream I care about this much.
But this leads me to think.... is that what success is for me in the long term is clearly way too big to measure without frightening myself to death.
So let’s take a step back.
What is success to me.... for this book. For my debut. For my very first ever foray out into the traditional publishing world.
Well, it’s not big sales and screaming fans.
I’m with a small press, and I know they are working hard to get my book out there, and I am too (hence the COMPLETE AND UTTER FREAKING OUT!) but they are also a small press, and I want to temper my expectations to match the realistic outcomes of publishing with a small press.
And you know what?
I am quite happy with that.
Success for me with this book is certainly not money.
Awards? I don’t think so.
You know what?
I haven’t really thought about this before.
I think I have been so busy trying to lower my expectations to match the realistic outcomes that I may be faced with, that I’ve never stopped to think about what outcomes would make me really happy.
But now I’m thinking about it.
What outcome would make me happy?
I think I want to feel proud of myself.
I keep telling myself that when my book comes out it will be out. People will like it or hate it. Or feel nothing about it at all. I will be faced with a lot of new challenges (public speaking! Terrifying! Book Launch! Very Scary!) I WILL get bad reviews and I can choose to look at them or not look at them. I will make a fool of myself on twitter and suck, or I won’t. And I’ll try my best to keep my head above water and if I can, I will even manage to enjoy myself. I certainly hope I will.
All of that surrounding stuff seems so huge and noisy.
But at the heart of it is a little story that I wrote.
And I want to feel proud of myself. I love this little story, I really didn’t think it would ever be published traditionally. But it is.
I think my release will be a success if I can hold onto that thought throughout all the noise and excitement and terror.
I want to feel proud of myself. And be proud of my story.
And maybe that is enough.