Monday, November 14, 2011

An Authors' Reality

by Cheri Chesley

This weekend has been an enlightening one, and I can blame/credit Facebook for that. I have the privilege of being friends with many authors in various states of publication and/or success--from National and International bestsellers to people still waiting to break in to publishing, or even those not so interested in publishing so much as sharing their stories or poems with friends and family. It's a blessed life.

And a cursed one. This weekend, several of my author friends have posted how their feelings of doubt about their abilities as writers have surged. These are established and even award winning writers. They have the chops. From the outside we question how they can doubt themselves or their abilities. They're proven successes.

But doubt and being a writer go hand in hand. It's the curse of art, I believe, or any artistic pursuit. We lack a standard by which we can measure success. Truly, success can be defined in different ways. Publishing a book. Getting the book contract. Having more than one book published. But, in truth, most of us just want to get better with each book. We crave the growth that comes with the process of writing. That is success.

It pains me to hear how my writer friends struggle. I know, from experience, that the doubt never really goes away. Right now I have what I think is the best manuscript I've ever written of to beta readers, and I know they're going to find problems with it. I want them to--so I can fix it, but, at the same time, I want to have the perfect book. Which I know is a pipe dream, but it doesn't stop me from striving for it.

To my friends who struggle with the process--and with their own doubts--I want to say that only you can define your personal success. As long as you are doing what you love, and doing your "Very best" as Gordon B. Hinckley would have said, you don't need to sweat the rest.

Recently, a friend asked if I could be anything I wanted or do anything I wanted in this world, what would it be. After some thought, I had to say I would be and do exactly what I'm doing now. I get to stay home and be here when my kids need me--which, after years of working, is such a blessing. And I get to write. I'm not the fastest or most prolific writer out there, but I'm steady. This has been my dream for so long, and I'm living it.

What would you be?