When a writer begins his or her book, there is always a little bit (and sometimes a lot a bit) of delusions of grandeur. You have visions of amazing things that will take place in the future: your guest appearance on the Tonight Show, accepting that Oscar for best something or other (maybe they’ll make a new category just for your own type of book), or having Oprah read it and love it and tweet it out to all her fans.
Then after you live in reality a while, you start to realize you maybe shouldn’t have bought that tux or gown quite yet. The phone isn’t ringing incessantly. You haven’t landed a six-figure deal with a New York publishing house. Or even found an agent who will read your stuff. The delusion starts to shake a bit, or maybe even completely shatter.
Then it becomes hard to keep writing. Those delusions helped you keep going, helped you push through that difficult “middle of the book” that every writer runs into. And if this goes on for a long time—years, decades?—maybe you decide to quit, to quit following your dream. Your dream is choking, or on life support. You’re ready to pull the plug. You have to step back and reassess goals, attitudes, values, and what success really means.
So this is when the good stuff can begin. The good stuff being the adjustment of perspective, the personal growth, the maturation process. If you handle this well, you can change what you think success is. Instead of thinking making the NY Best Selling List is how to measure success, you can see that true success is completing a story, writing the book, putting down your words, maybe sharing it with a few friends. When you can give up the need for riches and fame, you can see that what you have around you is what is really important—family, friends, health, security, a bed and roof even—things some people don’t have. A lot of people don’t have. If you can expand your worldview, look beyond yourself, whether or not you make a bunch of money or a lot of people tell you how wonderful you are, you can see that what counts isn’t measured like the world tells you it’s measured, like the media and society and even family and friends tell you. Success is really completely different from what all the messages say. And it takes hard work to realize what truly counts, to push back against those ideas that would belittle what you do if it doesn’t look a certain way or produce a specific result.
It’s hard to give up being the next Rowling or Hemingway. But what a chance to grow, if you let yourself, by giving up the need for fame and money, and learn to be content right where you are, enjoying the pleasure of writing, appreciating the good things around you, being grateful for all you do have.
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