This is a post that’s been weighing heavily on my mind the last few months. I’ve actually started this a few times and I usually talk myself out of posting it after only a few sentences. But this is me, taking my own advice to just do it.
And then I’ll be happy…
This is a sentence I’ve said or thought so many times in the last few years.
“If my book makes it into the top 1,000 then I’ll be happy.”
“If my book makes it into the top 500 then I’ll be happy.”
“If my book makes it into the top 100 then I’ll be happy.”
“If my book does <insert whatever you want> then I’ll be happy.”
But then I’m never happy and my accomplishments are never good enough for me. I’ve always been a highly competitive person, but never with other people, only within myself. I always want to do something better than I have before. Therefore, I’ve forgotten how to enjoy it when I do accomplish something. It simply becomes, “oh cool, how can I do it better next time.” So my then I’ll be happy doesn’t actually exist, because I don’t take the time to appreciate it. I’ve forgotten how to be happy with my successes. I don’t want that to make it sound like I’m ungrateful, because that’s the furthest thing from the truth. I’m not the most emotional person, but I do get a little teary-eyed when I think about the fact that I get to live my dream. MY DREAM. So many other people don’t get that chance and I have it, and that is amazing.
I’m making this post for one reason only.
I don’t think I’m the only author out there saying and then I’ll be happy.
It’s not healthy and it’s downright draining the obsessiveness we can develop with our sales numbers, our ranking, reviews, ratings…the list goes on and on.
Stop. Just stop. Because what I’ve finally realized is: it doesn’t matter. We’re driving ourselves into the ground and it’s not okay. We have to let the other stuff go and remember why we write to begin with—because we love it. Because we can’t breathe or live without it. Writing beats inside our chests just as much, if not more, than our hearts do. When we obsess over the numbers, and goals, and bestsellers lists we dull that beat. We’re suffocating our own creativity.
I’m not going to sit here and lie to you—do I want to make a bestseller list? Of course, more than anything. I think we all want that. It feels like the stamp of approval that we’re doing something right. But here’s the thing, we’re the only ones that care about that. Readers? They don’t care. They don’t care if you hit #1 on New York Times one hundred times in a row. It makes no difference to them. Surprisingly enough, it took my thirteen-year-old cousin to make me realize that. She was staying with me and picked up a book that said New York Times bestselling author and she asked me why that was printed on so many books. I explained and do you want to know her response? “Oh, huh, that’s funny. I don’t care. That’s not going to make me want to read a book so I don’t know why they bother putting that on the covers.” A light-bulb went off in my head and it suddenly occurred to me how I’ve been beating myself up for never making a list and coming so, so, so close on more than one occasion and readers don’t care about that.
This is me letting it all go. None of my obsessing and figuring and trying so hard is going to make anything happen. Instead, I’m going to write the best books I can. I’m going to write from my heart and write what I love.
I’m going to stop saying then I’ll be happy.
Now, when good things do happen, I won’t be obsessing over it and what comes next. It’ll be unexpected and it’ll feel so good and I really will be happy.