It takes so much work to make it…so what happens when nobody really cares?
Getting published – it is what separates the published book author, novelist, poet, columnist or magazine article writer from the aspiring weekend blogger. It is also that grand and glorious moment when we leap up from our chairs and scream out for the whole world to hear: “I GOT PUBLISHED!”
What happens after that epic moment though may not be what we expect from our closest family and friends or even from our work colleagues. Subdued jubilation and a quick high five may be the only words of praise and admiration we receive at best.
So, how do we deal with that sudden success and at the same time the lack of enthusiasm from the people who we thought would be and should be our biggest cheerleaders?
It is a defining moment in any published, writer’s life and a crucial one that could have a long-lasting effect on our confidence and the future of our writing career.
I know, because I have been there. I have felt the joy, the disappointment and the unexpected indifference from people I love towards my minor, and even my larger, literary bonanzas.
About 20 years ago, I had a book published by McGraw-Hill. It was a book about locksmithing (Locksmithing: From Apprentice To Master.) I loved writing and I desperately wanted to be a published author. I didn’t care what I wrote about as long as it was published. However, I decided it would be more strategic to write a book about something I was an authority on and would increase my chances of getting published. (I had two security trade books published previously, so I guess that helped.)
But I wanted to go to the top – straight to the top and publish a book that would be sold to the general public – so I threw away my fears and wrote up a book proposal and brazenly mailed it to the McGraw-Hill Publishing Company. Surprisingly, two-months later, I was awarded a book contract.
However, when that book was published, I could not understand why I was not being asked to go on a book tour or appear on the “Tonight Show.” Why was I not being offered half a year’s salary for speaking engagements in half a dozen writers’ workshops? Did anyone in the writing world care what I had to say? Didn’t my friends, family and neighbors want to know the incredible story of how I wrote that book? Didn’t any of them want to be seen out in public with me enjoying dinner at a pricey and upscale, Manhattan restaurant?
No autograph requests?
The Reality Sets In
Nothing – just a standard paper contract, a small advance and a promise to sue me later if I did not submit my completed manuscript in time.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not bitter and complaining that the world did me an injustice and failed to give me the praise I deserved. There were quite a few congratulations from family members and some high fives from friends, but not the ‘key to the city’ from the local, town mayor.
But there was the “Wow, I never would have thought you had it in you,” comments, and even one “Who do you think you are, Mario Puzo?”
Welcome To The Dark Side
When you become a published author, many people start looking at you differently. Some people seem to think that your income is in the six-figures. Others think that you are snobby and act as if you are better than everyone else, and some people make believe that they did not know you were an aspiring writer at all.
And then – some people are just plain jealous.
Sometimes success is met with contempt and that contempt and jealousy breeds its ugly face on some of the people who are the most important in our life. It is what I refer to as coming face to face with the dark side of being published.
People around us do not always show glee and exhilaration when we become successful, and that is a reality that we as writers have to contemplate. However, when we do become successful, we should try our best to remain humble and remember that the world does not revolve around us and stop because we had a poem published or won a short story contest.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with being proud of our literary achievements and wanting the whole world to join in our celebration. And we should be proud, but we should also know when the right time is for letting the accomplishment speak for itself.
When the day finally comes, and you see your name on the byline of that magazine article, poem or a book that says “The New York Times #1 Best Seller,” and want to share it instantly with the world – take a step back, close your eyes and than bask in total and unabashed glory.
You deserve it, and you don’t need anyone to tell you so.
Recently, I received word that I have a second book contract. At dinner the other night, I mentioned it to my daughter. She just looked up at me, then said, “Wow, dad, that’s great…now can you please pass the salt?”
Joseph E. Rathjen is a freelance writer, book author, and a pollster/Opinion Writer at “1World Online” – America’s Fastest Growing Social Research Engine. His blog (The Political and Social Chaos Blog) can be seen at http://www.josephrathjen.wordpress.com