Present word count of WIP: 20,552
Seth Godin’s Advice for Authors:
1. Lower your expectations. The happiest authors are the ones that don’t expect much.
This is the kind of advice that is comforting to the writer who has received a lot of rejections, the writer who’s gotten kind of lazy, or the writer who is surrounded by other successful authors and unsure whether he/she should continue.
But is it good advice?
I suppose it depends on your goals as a writer, and this leads me to a lengthy posting by Kristine Kathryn Rusch on her blog here, in which she takes many authors to task for not being ambitious enough or not being realistic in our ambitions. Granted, she’s definitely in the self-publishing camp (which becomes obvious as you read her post), but I think her main points are well-taken and apply to any author–traditionally published or not.
It’s the rare writer who actually has ambitions—real ambitions—and stands up for them. It’s the rare writer who not only dreams of glory (bestseller lists, millions of dollars, fame, lasting acclaim, or whatever) but actually works toward those dreams.
She teaches a lot of published authors who have lost their way in their career and are trying to get back on track. Her observation:
I urge these writers to become individuals and go on their own path, and if they don’t agree with something I say, then they should do it their way and prove me wrong. Most of the students are startled that I want them to question. I want them to think.
But that’s the only way you can have a long-term career as the person in charge of any business. You have to think, and be creative, and you can’t let roadblocks stop you.
You have to find a way around them.
But most of all, you have to question accepted wisdom. Last week, a lot of people came on my blog in the comments section spouting myths that teachers, editors, agents, and other writers have pounded into them, mostly telling these poor folks how impossible it is to do well in this business.
The key, in her opinion, is thinking big.
If you look around and see a small world, filled with a few friends, professors, and local bookstores, you’ll never make the kind of decisions that you need to survive in an international business. If you believe you have to chase sales with low price points or blog tours or book signings at area bookstores, you’ll never make the kind of decisions that you need to survive in an international business.
If you strive to do the best you can, write a lot of books, and make sure your books are in as many bookstores as possible—ebookstores, audio bookstores, foreign bookstores, as well as US bookstores, in English as well as dozens if not hundreds of languages (over time)—then you will succeed in this international business. You’re looking at the big picture.
So, do we aim low, not expecting much, as Godin advised, in order to ensure our contentment and happiness…or do we aim high, shooting for the stars, as Rusch advises? Something tells me the answer lies in our own personal natures, for that is where ambition begins. Do we tend toward fear and self-doubt or faith and self-confidence?
Originally posted 2012-01-16 17:06:11.