Monday, April 13, 2009

The virtue of patience

I admit to being addicted to the advice columns in the paper. Here's an interesting one I read not too long ago:

Dear Abby: I have recently enjoyed the success of having my first book published. However, this achievement has begun to change my life in ways I hadn't expected.
I am a somewhat shy and reflective person by nature, preferring to live quietly rather than being in the spotlight. Having the freedom to spend time with my family and to enjoy the little things in life is more important to me than success. However, since my book's debut, I have felt myself pulled into a different sort of world.
I am meeting more "important" people than I can remember, and I am struggling to keep up. My inbox is inundated with questions, appointments and invitations. I am expected at speaking events and signings that don't feel entirely authentic. I know I would be an idiot not to embrace these opportunities, but I am becoming more and more uncomfortable and stressed. Maybe this just isn't me.
How can I be who I am without feeling like a disappointment to those who believe in me?
— Not What I Expected in the Midwest

At first, I wanted to laugh, because there are so many wannabe authors I know who would give their right arm and their right leg, too, to be published. If I were Abby, I might have written something like "Count your blessings and suck it up" in reply.
But, thinking a little more about it, even success isn't always easy. My friend Sydney, who recently published her first novel, is really glad that she's published now rather than at an earlier stage when her kids were little. If she needs to be out late, work all day, or travel, she can do it because her girls are old enough to manage.
If I, on the other hand, had to always be out speaking and signing, I don't know how I would do it at this stage. Pumps are wonderful and all, but my kids are still little enough to constantly need me.
This doesn't mean I'll stop writing. But the publishing industry is notorious for making authors wait, and wait, and wait. I'm just saying that waiting isn't a bad thing.

And, speaking of patience...I recently watched a movie called The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Due to complications from a stroke, a magazine editor becomes completely paralyzed. He can't move or speak. All he can do is blink. One of his therapists communicates with him by using the alphabet and getting him to blink when she gets to the correct letter. Eventually, he decides to call an editor to remind her that they had had a book contract before his paralysis. And so, he dictates his entire memoir by blinking. By the end of the movie, even I had the letter sequence memorized. So when I think writing a book takes me forever...

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