i seem to be full of deep thoughts this week. Today, I would like to talk about success. Again.
Anyway, for someone like myself, it looks like this far away thing that other people have. It's nothing more than a dream and, no matter how hard I chase it, it is always seven, or eight, sometimes twenty, steps ahead of me. I stare at it longingly, hoping to grasp even a gossamer thread of it. That would be enough (until it isn't).
However much I really want success as a writer, I'm also not a little bit afraid of it. See what I did there? With the unclear meaning? Did you see it?
I'm terrified of success, if I'm totally honest. Success requires presence. There are all the public appearances, and talks and interviews and being in front of people... and all the pressure to look intelligent and knowledgeable and patient. There's all the smiling and greeting and gods! Just thinking about it all is giving me a panic attack!
There's also the issue of errors. I am so unknown that it doesn't matter if I prove my humanity and make errors. Most of the people reading this blog or paying attention to my social media presence are personal friends. They know me and what I mean, and if I make a gaff, they're willing to point it out and we all have a good laugh together.
Success as a writer demands a wide audience - people who don't know me, or what I meant. I have seen enough social media storms to know that even the slightest error can result in a complete evisceration of the person who made the unfortunate mistake. There is no room for humanity for the successful. They must be non-erring automatons or something.
Along the same lines is my deep, deep fear of a profound loss of privacy. I am so worried that the public presence which success as a self-published author demands will lead to people disregarding my right to and need for privacy the same way they do for celebrities. I realise that I'm flattering myself here, but it still really worries me. What if I can't go grocery shopping without someone coming up to me. Even if it is to compliment me, it means that I must be 'switched on' all the time, and I just can't do that. I need downtime. A lot of it.
Then, of course, with success comes hate; people who crawl out of their caves just to pour vitriol over what the successful have slaved over, poured their heart and soul into for ages. People jump out to cry "Fraud!" "Hack!" "How did this drivel get published?" And then there will be personal attacks. "She is so [insert ugliest description you can imagine]." "What an idiot." "She probably slept with so and so to get that non-existent good review." Oh wait, sorry. That last one was GamerGate.
I realise that much of what I imagine is just that - my imagination, but I have seen these things hurled at other successful writers. It makes me nervous. The anonymous public is terrifyingly cruel.
And I am not as strong as I pretend. There would be tears, and depressive spirals.... It would be high school all over again. *shudder*
Then again, success might just be wonderful. The people I have met on my journey thus far have been uniformly genuinely amazing folk. I also have wonderful role models for what success can be and how to handle it gracefully. There is the always amazing Marie Bilodeau, who is a fantastic writer living and working in Ottawa.
Oh, I must plug her stuff. The first part of her serialised story Nigh is FREE. You need to go get it. She's awesome, and the story sounds totally kick-arse (I haven't read it yet, but it's on my to-read list). Click HERE to get Part One of Nigh free!
Anyway, Marie is always open and friendly, and she handles everything with such grace. I am determined to learn by that example... and I'm both jealous and in awe of it. It's probably just Marie's personality, but I would find the whole exercise incredibly exhausting!
Then there is Hayden Trenholm, author and proprietor of Bundoran Press, a Science Fiction press here in Ottawa. He isn't as bubbly and outgoing as Marie, but he manages to be always congenial and happy to talk sci fi. He and his wife are both genuinely wonderful and gracious people, and they handle public interactions really well.
Though I put on a brave face, I usually want to dissolve into a puddle on the floor a la Amélie.
Success, as you can see, is actually far more complicated for me that people might otherwise think. I'm sure I'm not the only one for who this is true. Still, I really want it, but not for fame reasons. I want to be able to make a living doing the thing I love most, the same way people who love carpentry are able to make a living from that. It would totally make my life to board any mode of public transport and see at least one passenger holding one of my books.
Oh success! It's complicated.
And now I've spent enough time blathering on with no real point. I'm going to work on my Welsh now.