Failing to live up to expectations at break-neck speed
Somebody said to me the other day, “You’ll be well-known one day, I can tell.” A few days before that, someone else asked me to describe how I’ve come to be the successful writer I am today. Even before that, someone else told me that they were surprised by how much I’ve accomplished at such a young age.
I want to be a nice, normal person and accept these compliments graciously, but I’m not a nice, normal person. I’m me. And because I’m me, all of these statements make me feel weird. Not in a fun, weird-in-my-pants kind of way, just weird.
I hate that kind of weird.
I don’t think I’m successful. I don’t think I’m accomplished. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I actually was, or how to tell, either. (Do you just wake up one day and feel successful? Do you get a special button for acquiring a certain sense of accomplishment?) I don’t think anybody is actually reading anything I’m writing, or would pay good money to read it in the future. There will be no three-book deal. There will be no auctioning off of movie rights. I will never be the bestselling author of anything. I will never be in a position to live comfortably off my writing. I will always be chained to a day job and scraping pennies together to survive.
Why? Because I’m not lucky, marketable or willing to compromise. I do what I set out to do, in my own way, in my own time, and that’s it. People like that very rarely get anywhere, and if they do, it’s because of dumb luck just as much as anything else. For every Kurt Vonnegut or William S. Burroughs, there’s one-hundred shit-awful writers who whore themselves for dollar bills. And I accept that. Same way I always smile and nod, and thank people for the compliments.
But if I wanted to make money, I would have gone to school to be a dentist. Instead I taught myself how to write, because I couldn’t think of anything better to do. If I get somewhere along the way, I’ll let you know.