"So how many books has she sold? How much does she make per book? Has she been invited to speak anywhere or do radio interviews? How successful is she, really?
Annoyance battled with insecurity for a few moments and temporarily, insecurity won. The truth is my book sales haven't been stellar. Most of those who have purchased books have sent very encouraging messages and have often bought a few more copies to give as gifts. My small but mighty band of readers have been super supportive but I'll be honest, I am a little disappointed at my sale numbers. Feeling down about my sales led to a time of self flagellation at my lack of marketing.
I've joked with friends that I wrote this book in the privacy of my own home and it would be nice if people had the decency to read it in the privacy of their's instead of expecting me to sit and sign and talk about my book. I know that this is completely unrealistic. That's not how this thing goes (and for the record, I do enjoy meeting readers). First you write then you promote. That's the drill. But as you, my dear faithful readers, know I am dorkified through and through. I am awkward and squirmy when it comes to self promotion and the dreaded Accepting of Compliments. I find this Promotion of The Book thing really, really hard. It's unnatural to me yet it's the next thing I must do.
So with all of this neurotic emotional baggage hanging around my neck I asked myself the questions, "How successful am I, really?"
I WROTE A DANG BOOK, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!
I wrote a book. I sent hours locked away in my room like some kind of half crazed hermit. I drank boatloads of coffee and survived on crackers and grapes (food you can easily eat while typing) for months. I read, reread, edited, revised, screamed, revised again. I contemplated commas, inserted a million forgotten hyphens and agonized over titles, introductions and acknowledgements. And most of all, I prayerfully considered each scripture and each word that I used to lay out the message in my heart. I poured myself onto paper and then handed it over to the masses (and by masses I mean 200 friends and family) to read.
I wrote a book.
So, yeah. I'm successful. The most successful writer ever. I have joined legions of Most Successful Writers Ever who have taken the time, the effort and the heart to bravely follow their passion to write. These courageous souls have not only started to write a book but they have finished writing a book. Starting is scary but finishing is impossibly hard. Every book you hold in your hand in the dream of someone's heart - a dream they had the perseverance to walk out into reality. They just did it (a la Nike).
And so did I.
We gauge success by a million bizarre measuring sticks. Size matters when talking success. Size of house, size of office, size of bank account - but do these things really measure success? I don't think so. Does a huge office bring you peace? Does loads of cash bring you friendship? Does a fancy title bring you love? Not really. I think it's the intangible things that are the only real marker of success. Are you at peace with what you have done? Do you feel a deep sense of well-being and assurance that you have done what is right?Yes? Great! You are successful. Anything that comes after peace is just gravy.
If you have a dream in your heart you can't be worried about success, accolades or criticisms if you want that dream to be a reality. You just have to do it. Just do the work to move the dream forward. Take the time to plan it out, prepare yourself and then do the work. That's success. Doing. Followed by peace. A sense of accomplishment. Pride in knowing that you saw that monumental thing through. You did the thing you were scared to do. You finished it.
The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.