The other day I was talking with one of my friends about my book’s future publication, and with the best of intentions he said: “Well, I guess you’ve finally made it!”
Now, I understood what he meant, and I truly appreciated the sentiment and support, but most writers know there are very few, truly “made it” moments with this gig. Successful querying is followed by the stress and purgatory of being out on a submission; a book deal only leads to a helluva lot of worrying if the deal was good enough. A published book means angst and doubt about sales and lists and reviews.
One book out in the world is followed by the fear if another will ever follow.
The truth for writers is we’re making it all up, and making it all over, again and again and again. We craft and create something from nothing, out of thin air - sentences and paragraphs and books and, ultimately, careers. That process never stops, it never ends. I’m nowhere near the writer I want to be, I’ve not gotten to a third of the stories I want to tell (and if this first book doesn’t sell that well, I may not get the exact same opportunity again), and it’s hard to envision a future where I can ever stand on a mountaintop and look down at my accomplishments. Rather, I can only imagine always looking ahead at another peak, and the one after that.
Creating is hard work, sustaining that creativity over the arc of a long career is ten times as hard. And if “making it” is merely a measure of book sales and good reviews and lists, then the creative life is a harsh and jealous mistress. Instead, I'd like to think that "making it" is what we do every day we successfully sit down and face that blank page again; take on the struggle of putting one really good word after another. From the outside looking in it, it may not seem like much - it's not the sort of success most people can understand, or can celebrate with us. But to those of sitting in the chair, sometimes it's all we got...
Always keep writing, JTS