My friend Ellie Ann Soderstrom has now been on both the NYT and USA Today bestseller lists for multiple weeks. I would tell you what that feels like, but I don’t know, because I’m far removed from any sort of bestseller list.
Of course, being on such lists has totally changed her life and brought her instant wealth, right? I mean, isn’t that what all authors want?
Actually, the answer to the first question is “no,” and to the second, “it shouldn’t be.” As she points out in her blog (click on her name above to see it), her personal problems haven’t changed, and her kids aren’t the least bit impressed.
There’s a lesson in here somewhere for the rest of us. A bestseller would be nice, and multiple million-sellers would be even nicer, but that shouldn’t be why we write. We should be writing because we love to do so. Any fame or financial rewards our writing might bring should just be icing on the cake.
I began writing novels to entertain myself and, possibly, some family members. I made some effort in the early nineties to get a couple of them published, but I never considered being published to be my raison d’etre. I wrote because I enjoyed writing.
It’s a good thing I had that attitude, because I never came close to getting any of them published. I hardly knew a thing about the craft of novel-writing, and it showed.
More recently, Amazon, Smashwords and other such outfits have made self-publishing not only respectable but also relatively easy to do. I now have one Christian nonfiction and seven novellas on the market.
Now and then I find myself envying those authors who sell enough books to make a living at it. I catch myself daydreaming about what I’d do if I had X amount of income from my writing. But I don’t sit around worrying about such things. As Ellie Ann pointed out in her blog, it wouldn’t really change my life if I did. I’d still have to roll out of bed every morning. I’d still put my pants on one leg at a time. I’d still be the same person I am now.
One lady in my writers’ group managed to join the elite among indie authors in the last few years. I’m sure her income from writing is in the six digits. But she still has two kids and a husband to occupy large portions of her time and attention, and when her travel allows her to be available for our meetings, she’s still just one of us. No airs or snobbery or anything like that. She’s always quick to volunteer ideas or help to the rest of us.
I’m happy for all the Ellie Anns out there—people who have hit the big leagues as authors and are enjoying big sales and, maybe, big money. But I’m also glad she has her feet on the ground and keeps that success in perspective, and I thank her for the reminder to the rest of us: we write because we love writing—that’s the only legitimate reason for doing it.
For the writers among you, why do you write? How do you think your life would be better if you books became bestsellers?
WANA: We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.
For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.
Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.
David – I didn’t think much about writing all those years I worked in the field for the government. I had to write up my daily reports and when a case went to trial, I had to have everything in top notch order. The only writing for myself was my journal writing and I always loved letter writing and I miss receiving hand written letters. They always seemed to be so much more thoughtful than an e-mail.
And now you do fantastic writing on your blog, Sheri.
Thank you David.
I write because it’s the one thing I think I’m good at (she says, ending with a preposition). Oh, that and dancing and popping bubble wrap. But seriously, when I’m doing it, it’s the closest I feel to being the person I’m meant to be—my best self.
I asked a published writer friend how she felt about being published, in general. She said this: “Publishing felt very far away–it was like having a crush on a boy who not only never looked in your direction, but would most certainly not see you if he did. Publishing was like having a crush on Robert Redford. And then one day, Robert Redford turned around and looked at me. He didn’t do much more than that, but still. The interesting thing about it was that I could tell he wasn’t what I thought he would be. Like, he was a tiny bit withholding and had no sense of humor. So much for publishing.”
I think if that’s what it’s like for the majority of authors, and we require ourselves to see it for what it really is and keep writing anyway, then we’re writing for the best reason—love.
Either that, Kelly, or else we’re all a bit crazy. Maybe both. BTW, glad I subscribed to your blog.
I too am glad that your writing is motivated by desire to do so, David. The few things I have written are for the same reason …. though I have never worked hard to learn and improve like you do …. I just write for my own satisfaction when I do so. I admire your commitment to growing and learning with the craft, regardless of publication, fame, fortune, etc.
Thanks, Barb. Just keep enjoying your own writing.
Yes, I’m glad that you are writing what you love, for there is reward enough in that.
Thanks, Sharon – but I know you wouldn’t mind a few bucks of extra income.