Saturday, September 27, 2008

To Be Content

I look back at the past five years of my writing career with smiles and moans. I never expected the turns and twists, the bumps and the bruises. Well, maybe a few.

But it seems this writing thing I do, has taken a mirror image of my past struggles. We writers often think there's going to be a big pay-off someday. That fate is going to hand us a trophy for our diligence and our damn-it-all tenacity to succeed. Many of us fully believe we will find our rightful spot on the shelves of Barnes & Noble. And some writers see their name on the bestseller lists across the country.

Yet, for as much as I believe in dreaming those big dreams, I'm finding the "pay-offs" if you will, are not always what we anticipate. And like my daddy says, "wishin' ain't gettin'."

I sat next to a couple of lovely ladies this past week at the High Point Literary League's Fall Luncheon, where Jodi Picoult was the guest speaker. These ladies were as enthralled with the fact that they were sitting next to me, the author who wrote Southern Fried Women, as they were to hear Jodi Picoult. To these women, Jodi and I were on the same playing field.

Ha! Can you imagine?

I tried to explain, I'm a starving artist compared to Ms. Picoult who is light years ahead of me. But they didn't care a twit. They said they loved my book, "as much as anything Jodi had written."

My book. A collection of short stories. My only book, so far. A small accomplishment in comparison to Jodi P. I felt a little embarrassed. Embarrassed that I have not been able to yet see the success I thought I would by now. Embarrassed I'm such a small fish in an ocean of authors.

But then, I got to thinking. If this is all the success I ever see, then I'm going to be okay with that. I'm going to hope that Don Maass is right, that it does take a good decade to make a great novelist, but if it doesn't happen ... I'm going to keep on writing because ... that's my heart. That's what I love to do. Not because I think I should be on the same playing field with Jodi, or Nora, or Danielle, or Diana. When you get to my age, and you've been through a few of life's wars, your accomplishments begin to take on different shapes. Strange how that happens.

Does that mean one should settle for whatever comes? No. It means we writers must find contentment to be who we are, not who we hope to be.

Should I continue to pioneer my way to publication? By all means. But it doesn't mean there's going to be a big party waiting at the end of the trail. By all means, dream big. Always dream big.

Just know, there may never be a big "pay off." There may only be one book and this blog. But as long as I write for the right reasons, believe there's a few who want to read what I write, then I'll keep plowing my field. Sowing my word seeds.

Harvest may be a ways off. I may have to pray for rain. But in the meantime, I'll just go ahead and write the next story.

Blessings to you and yours.

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