And I thought the best way to follow up yesterday's post was to use another portion that I love from Shannon Hale's awesome, "What I Wish I'd Known" list. These are items 1-4:
- You, the author, are less important than any bookstore clerk.
- You are less important than any librarian.
- You are less important than any reader.
- Basically, you’re much less important that you’d thought or hoped you’d be. And it turns out, that’s a good thing.
The last sentence is a my favorite part.
I'm sure there's some who might be surprised by that. I know some people think I pursue publication for fame and glory--hoping to be the next J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer. But you know what? I couldn't care less about fame. In fact, the thought of it pretty much terrifies me. I've watched what can happen when fame becomes a part of someone's life--I saw it up close and personal when I worked in Hollywood. And let me tell you, it ain't pretty. It's not fame's fault. It's a little thing called "Entitlement."
Fame doesn't come easily for most people--especially in the literary world. We SLAVE over our projects. We endure revision after revision, critique after critique, rejection after rejection. So when we finally reach our dream and have our book published--especially if it does well--it can feel like validation for all that hard work. And it is.
But sometimes that feeling turns darker, and we begin to feel entitled to what we have--and that's a dangerous thing--trust me. I've watched entitlement ruin careers. I've personally seen it turn an actor into such a prima donna that even though their show was doing well in the ratings, the head of the network canceled it. His reason? (And this is what he actually told the press) Life's too short to work with a person like that. Their career has never recovered.
So I'm all for humility. I'm all for being unimportant. I would never want to let any amount of success--no matter how big or small--make me think I'm entitled to it. I'm not. I don't work any harder than any of you. I don't have any more to offer than any of you. And if I reach the goal before you, it's only timing. You'll get there. We'll all get there. And when we do--great!
But I don't want to let it go to my head. I'm with Shannon Hale (and no, I don't just like her because of her name). It's a good thing to be unimportant. It's keeps us humble. Keeps us grounded. And believe me, it gives us a much longer, much more successful career.
So what about you guys. Are you proud to be unimportant? Why or why not?