March 14, 2016

Sometimes it's you...sometimes it's not: on success, randomness, and shining a light

If there's one thing that's certain about the writing life, it's that it isn't for anyone who is interested in immediate gratification. It is something you do because you love language. Because you love creating characters and telling stories. Because you can't not do it. 

If you're lucky, there are highs: acceptances, grants, awards. Personal notes from readers who loved your books. But most of the time, you're alone. Writing. 

And of course there are the grants you didn't get, the stories that got rejected, and the 1-star Goodreads reviews that haunt your dreams.

1-star Goodreads reviews, amirite?

There's always someone who's doing better than you: who gets a better review, who sells more books, who's on the cover of a magazine.

I'm willing to bet that even if you have a book on the New York Times' bestsellers list, there's always something to be unhappy about if you start comparing yourself to other people.

Comparisons are invidious, etc.

Writing takes forever. Most of the time, you won't be the one with a book coming out, or with a book on a shortlist or a starred review. I think when it happens, you need to enjoy it. You should share your good news and be gracious and humble and remember that the same randomness and luck and quirks of taste that are working for you now might not work for you later.

And the rest of the time, you need to be genuinely excited about other books and other people's success.

Because it's worth remembering that at any given moment, there are always more wonderful books to enjoy than are being talked or tweeted about by the general public. Where is the light that will shine on every worthy book that comes out in a given year?

My kingdom for a light!

The Canada Reads books are all wonderful (go read them if you haven't!), but here are a few other random books from years past that I have loved that I don't think I have mentioned before on the blog:

So go forth and read and tell everyone about all the wonderful books you read this year...not just the ones they already know about.

* For some reason I can't quite fathom, these all happen to be Goose Lane titles. 

1 comment:

Pat Webster said...

A very generous post, Saleema, with great illustrations (I swooned over the swoon and the apples and oranges). This generousity of spirit is a very fine trait.