It’s that time again. I just clicked the “publish” button for a fifth time, and I’ll tell you: the rush never changes. It’s exciting. It’s empowering.
But it’s also a moment that calls for some self-evaluation. After all, it’s my fifth book. My fifth book at the age of 25, and I have yet to be named, let alone considered, a best-selling author in any notable book review journal. So am I doing okay? Am I doing anything right at all?
What’s the point of asking these questions, anyway?
I get to do something I love and am proud to put my name on. That’s what matters. The small circle of “fans” (that feels slightly pretentious) I’ve acquired are not part and parcel of this whole author experience: they are earned. And their reviews tell me that they appreciate my work not because I’m a hot new name in fiction, but because they connect with my stories. They recognize themselves in them.
That’s what matters.
But I’m someone who has wanted to be famous her entire life. There’s still a part of me that looks at my sales, my number of Twitter followers, compares them to those of other indie authors, and thinks I’m not doing enough. However, there’s a huge difference between putting work out there to be noticed, and putting work out there to say something real. If my only desire is to be noticed, to become some sort of household name, then I will always be disappointed. There will always be someone else topping new charts that didn’t exist yesterday, selling more copies, and gaining more Twitter followers.
It’s funny how you can find a high school-style hierarchy in just about any occupation or hobby. No matter what you do, you will always, at some point, feel like a geek while someone else is being crowned prom queen. Well, in book world, the latest New York Times best-seller is the prom queen. I guess that makes me a mathlete or something?
I’m in the process of re-evaluating the real reasons I want to be famous. Not can’t-buy-toilet-paper-without-paparazzi-snapping-my-picture famous, but…famous. Significant. No, more like an important historic figure. Someone to be read about in history books, not People magazine.
And the more I think about it, the more I understand that my reasons for desiring fame are kind of stupid. I’m not “that special” of a person. I’m just a woman with something to say. So I write it down, publish it, and am blessed by the handful of reviews from people who tell me that they see their own stories in my work. I’ve made a few new friends out of this journey into publishing; friends I wouldn’t have met any other way, because they are as close as Philadelphia and as far away as England. They aren’t established critics, but they are people whose voices matter just as much as my own. And when they tell me that something I wrote resonated with them, it means the world.
And that is why I continue to write. Fame or no fame, I think I’m doing okay for myself.