“All writers dream of writing a best-seller” is a line I’ve read, and heard, many times during my decades of both reading and writing.
Do they? Do I? Do I want the stress of writing the thing in the first place, of sacrificing months, possibly years, of my life, under the additional pressure of high expectations of a publisher who has given me a generous advance?
Do I want the book tours — they are supposedly exhausting — and having to perform readings, maybe give speeches, undertake media appearances?
Do I want the subsequent demands to produce a follow-up book?
Perhaps you would love all those things, but it’s important to consider them properly, because that’s what bestselling authors’ lives can be like. Are you prepared to be away from home? Are you prepared for the eyes of the world on you? Do you really want your life to change, quite so much?
I can only speak for myself, but I do not dream of producing a best-seller or indeed of any kind of writing fame, and so I don’t pursue it. If it were to come along by accident, I imagine I’d shy away from it to some degree. Perhaps, I might find myself embracing it. Who knows. Who cares. I don’t, really; at least, not enough to make an effort to find out.
You may well think entirely differently, of course, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But after having written my most recent ‘mistake’ post — Keeping the Dream Alive — I started to think more about why we have the dreams we have, and what truly drives them, so I think it’s important to examine them.
Fame, fortune? Or just to get your writing ‘out’ there — as far out there as possible? Or is it validation? Or is it attention? Is it a form of love?
All of these are fine, I feel obliged to emphasise. You’re entitled to want what you want, and in whichever way that you want it.
But I would just like to advise all you aspiring writers to think extremely carefully about what you’re chasing, and whether it really is what you want, or whether there’s something else underlying that desire, and, if so, whether there’s another way you can achieve it — one which might avoid some of the consequences that will come, but that you may not be looking for.
Challenge yourself to be sure of and secure in what you’re doing, and if it turns out you’re not sure, then it’s better to find out now, than to find out later.
And if it turns you are sure, it’ll strengthen your resolve and benefit your progress.
Either way, good will come out of it.
I just wanted to tell you that, folks, and nothing more.