Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Let It Be Enough


On one of the kid-lit writers’ chat boards, a multi-published author was lamenting her lot. Yes, she has a great agent, a strong major publisher, and commercial success. But she has yet to get a single literary award, and now she must come to terms with the notion that maybe she just isn’t that kind of writer. A No-Newberry Nelly. Never.

The discussions on this board are always thoughtful and, not surprisingly, articulate. Writers chimed in to say that they only dream of the sort of success she has. That they can’t get their foot in the door of a New York publisher, or any publisher. Some said that while they are published, their trajectory pales next to hers. Others went on about how much they and their kids adore her books.

But then the conversation made a wrong turn.

Writers poured in their angst at all things literary. They declared they would read her amusing and joyful books over any Newberry winner, any day. To my un-humble mind, this was sour grapes. The fox can’t reach them, so he declares the grapes not worth having. 
©Von Bandersnatch
As often happens on the board, someone brought sanity back in. A writer told of the first time she saw her own book in print, and knowing the insatiable appetite for more worldly success and recognition, she said to herself, “Let it be enough.”
Wherever you are today, I wish you just this. May it be enough.

10 comments:

  1. These wise words are worth repeating over and over, aren't they? Thank you.

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  2. Great advice! Major awards are wonderful for those who receive them, but the best "literary award" is hearing from readers who loved your book. :)

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  3. Comparing what we have to what others have, what we've achieved to what others have achieved is such a trap.
    "Let it be enough" - love these words. Thanks so much for sharing them.

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  4. There is something very strange about human nature that makes us always compare ourselves to other people. No matter how much we achieve, someone else will have done more. I guess it keeps us motivated, but it can also drive us crazy.

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  5. "Let it be enough." That's great advice. :)

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  6. I remind myself of this every time I get discouraged about lack of reviews, or start feeling like no one's actually reading my books. I've dreamed of being a published author since I was five years old, and now I'm living that dream. Even if I'm not universally known and beloved, I am a published author, and that is enough. (Not that I don't want more, but I can be happy with where I'm at while striving for bigger things.)

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  7. I don't necessarily think it has to be sour grapes, though it can be. Many people would honestly rather read commercial than literary, and if sales figures = commercial, maybe we can say "most." And we have to admit that lots of kids are allergic to anything with a sticker on it. Depends on the attitude with which it is said.

    "Let it be enough" is wonderful advice.

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    1. Deleted above because I meant to post my reply here, to Marcia's:

      Of course it isn’t sour grapes to prefer reading commercial books. But a conversation that slips into disparaging literary writing and awards, and from *writers,* no less, has slipped into that territory IMO.

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  8. Excellent points. We all have different journeys and we shouldn't belittel another's successes.

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