At a writer’s conference this weekend, I was asked by a presenter to describe my personal vision of success with regard to writing this book. As she went around the room gathering responses, I took a mental inventory:
Money. I hereby confess to being human and wanting some kind of financial recompense for what will amount to years’ worth of work on this project. There. I’ve said it—it would be nice to get paid. Furthermore, since we’re being honest, it would be extra nice to get paid a lot, say somewhere in the JK Rowling figures. Partly because I’d like to give it all to my remarkable, always supportive husband, so he too can have the opportunity to follow his passions in the same way he’s allowed me to follow mine, and partly because I’d like to prove to my children I wasn’t just sitting around in my office all this time. Having said that, money wasn’t actually the first thing that popped into my head.
Making a difference. This is the thought that came into my head slightly ahead of money. I know I run the risk of sounding schmaltzy, self-aggrandizing, or dangerously smug, but it’s the truth. The instant I thought of what would make this book a success, I thought about making a difference in the life of someone else. More specifically, helping someone avoid making a decision they will regret simply because they didn’t know any other way of going about it. I’ve been that person, made those bad decisions, and oh, how I wish I could go back and change every one. So the ability to offer a new way of thinking to someone else would be nothing short of amazing.
Seeing my name in print. OK, clearly we’re back to more selfish reasons for success, but honestly, how many people wouldn’t mind seeing their name in print? On a book? That they wrote? Assuming it was any kind of good, of course. While it may not be everyone’s ultimate dream, for this girl it would be right up there with graduating from college and raising more-or-less good humans, in terms of life achievements.
Writing a dedication. This is going to sound a little silly, but I am living for the day I get to pen my own book’s dedication. You know, those few words on the front page where the author recognizes someone specific? I toy around with it constantly, rephrasing over and over again the manner in which I will honor my husband for all that he is. I still don’t know how or why I managed to catch him, but of this I am absolutely certain: he is the only reason I am writing this book. Forget Ruth, forget my parents, forget my amazing mentor, my supportive friends, and forget everything that might have ever motivated me to become a writer. Without him, it would never happen. Ever. He makes me one billion times better at everything. So yeah, writing that dedication is a clear-cut measure of this book’s success.
Finishing a marathon. I don’t mean in the sense of actually running a race, since I hate running and only do it when I’m sprinting out the door at top speed because I’m late for an appointment because I was totally in the groove and on a roll and forgot to look at the clock…again. But a marathon in the sense of finishing a long, long, very long race. I imagine crossing the finish line of this book feeling much like I did at college graduation: oh, wow, am I really done? A somewhat anti-climatic sigh of relief that I actually did it. (I just took a deep breath and imagined that moment. It was heavenly.)
To paraphrase the conference presenter, these are the goals I need to keep in clear focus if I’m to attain my own measure of success. Sound advice, right? And I didn’t even know I needed it.
P.S. For those of you who happened to read my blog on feeling irrelevant, there is breaking news: the 21-year-old called me yesterday and suggested we have lunch. Together. Me and him. For real.
What is happening to my life?! And what is next?? JK Rowling’s paycheck?
Perhaps I should have written about him sooner….