The other day, someone close to me was gushing about the fact that I have a book out in the ether, and asked why I wasn't more excited about their prediction that, soon, I would FOR SURE, be a bestselling author.
"You're going to make tons of money. Why aren't you more excited about this?" *exact quote*
You know that smile that crosses your face when you're trying to be polite, but in your head, you're screaming at a wall? Yeah, I had that look, I'm sure.
Now, don't get me wrong. The support of friends, family, writing groups and other authors is imperative in this business. It just is. And I LOVE that I have such an amazing cast of support behind me. However, non-writing supporters have a much rosier view of an author's future than, say, the author and the author's writing friends do.
Why? Because the author (me) is grounded in a little thing called reality.
The supportive cast is grounded in what they've seen in the media about authors making it big. I like to call this delusional non-reality.
When you insist that you just know an author is going to be rolling in the cash and making it big, you walk a line between dismissing the goals they've met thus far and planting seeds that threaten to sprout, despite the author's best laid "reality soil."
Let me lay it out for you. My husband and I work our asses off, yet despite years of tough work, we still struggle everyday. The threat of layoffs and injury constantly hang over us. One good injury, and my career as an EMT is over. One more layoff and my husband will probably go insane. We live in a exceptionally-tiny-for-a-family-of-five house of 900 square feet, and drive old cars. Do we want/NEED a bigger house? How many times can I say yes?? Do we need to upgrade our vehicles? Again, yes to the million.
Is it going to happen? Likely, no. Are we comfortable, healthy, warm and happy where we are? Yes.
When people jump up and down and squeal about all the fame and fortune SURE TO COME from one little book...do I hope a little?
I wouldn't be human if I didn't hope, just a little.
Chances of that happening are 10000000000000000 to none. And while I appreciate the faith in me, I'd prefer to stay on the ground, thanks.
Good thing my reality-soil is a good foot or more deep. I can plant an entire garden of books in there and know they will grow, over time, in their own way. They may never produce that patch of fame and fortune-in fact, I never expect them too.
That's not why I'm an author. Not at all.
So to all the non-writer supporters of authors everywhere, be careful about planting unrealistic seeds. Let the writer in your life be HAPPY with the accomplishment of simply getting an agent, getting a book deal, self-publishing--whatever the milestone may be.
We don't need more than that.
We don't need your future monetary predictions, or bets on when the movie will be coming out.
We don't need your certaintly that every household in America and beyond will know our names by the end of the year.
We don't need to discuss our book sales numbers with anyone but our agents and publishers. *psst* It's really uncouth to ask.
We just need you to say, "good job. I'm proud of you."
And if you see that tight little smile, assume that inside the writer's head, she is ramming her forehead into the brick wall in her mind. Or, having a character conversation, in which case, she's not hearing a word you're saying...
Either way, happy writing and happy author-supporting!!!