The hot air balloon festival has been going on in Albuquerque. This photo was taken by one of my LERA (Land of Enchantment Romance Authors) chapter mates, author Sarah Storme.
I think it’s a fabulous picture.
Sarah is also a scientist, who has had a long time career with the Forest Service and is just now finding success as an author.
Success is a funny thing. First of all, it means different things to different people. A lot of us spend a fair amount of time defining personal success for ourselves. We have to break it out, too. There’s financial comfort, health, love, family, career and art. For some, career and art get to be the same thing. But it isn’t always, and doesn’t have to be.
For writers, it’s easy to focus on the big icons of success: the bestseller lists, the glossy bookstore displays, the admiring reviews. One big dividing line is whether or not one is doing well enough to be a full-time writer. Even this though, can be deceptive, because whether or not a high-earning spouse is involved can make a huge difference, or other, similar factors.
It is, of course, easy to succumb to that most unpleasant of disorders: jealousy.
There’s this young author I know glancingly. She’s on Twitter and is a friend of friends. By young, I mean mid-twenties. She’s enjoying the success of her first published novel, a young adult book that’s being received very well. I would be lying if I said I don’t envy her current literary fortune.
In fact, her name has made the rounds enough that a Big-Time Famous Author mentioned this gal on her blog. The Big-Time Famous Author linked to the young author’s blog, mentioned her book and how she planned to read it. I should add that this Big-Time Famous Author is also one of my all-time favorites, a personal hero and I might just have every book she’s ever written. I was thrilled for young author and mentioned it to her on Twitter. She hadn’t known and went to look. When she came back, she sent me the message “Tee-hee.”
To cut her slack, maybe that’s her version of being modest. Maybe she didn’t know what to say. But I came away with the impression that this was just another mention, just another accolade, tra la, tra lay, tee-hee.
I also know she’s young and she doesn’t yet know that these really fabulous things don’t happen all that often. She’s tumbled into fame and adulation early; she maybe thinks things will always be this way. Who knows? Maybe for her they will.
But most likely not. Nobody seems to get the rose-petal path. The universe is forever giving us trials along with the blessings, just to keep it interesting.
It puts me in mind of Scarlett O’Hara’s character arc, and how she went from “fiddle-dee-dee” to “As God is my witness I’ll never go hungry again.”
It’s good to work hard for something, to struggle, to shed a few tears, to sacrifice some blood and flesh. The pain makes the reward all the sweeter. That’s where we grow and build character. It what makes us appreciate success all the more when we achieve it.