“This girl at school thinks she’s all that,” our 15-year-old said.
That made me think of attitudes I’ve seen in writers.
Over the years, Jerry Jenkins has become a household name. I don’t know him well, but in my brief contacts, I’ve appreciated his humility and kindness. Success has not kept him from being approachable.
I’ve discovered that many top-selling authors are gracious, and they clearly don’t think they’re all that.
I’ve also seen the other end of the spectrum. I interviewed an author whose first book had just been released by a small publisher. Instead of answering my questions, she babbled about her “enormous success” — this book and a couple of articles.
There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your work — or being excited about sales or other accomplishments. Just keep things in perspective:
● Success is a blessing from God. We have no guaranteed formulas. Sometimes talented writers go through dry spells, while others enjoy a frenzy of sales.
● Fame is relative. We might be well-known to a circle of readers, but few of us will ever become household names.
● Success brings responsibility. The more we succeed, the more we’re responsible to be good stewards.
● Be excited and move on. Problems come when a writer’s success permeates her conversations, motivations, and very being. Celebrate — then move on.
● Be sensitive to others. One writer eagerly told our group about his successes. As he talked, the others’ faces drooped.
● Consider your motivation. My husband and I pay our bills with freelance work, so we ask God for success. But if I become obsessed with writing only to make money, I may have a motivation problem. Ask the Holy Spirit to check your heart.
● Success is subjective. What seems to us like success may not fit God’s definition. You may not feel you’re accomplishing what you’d like, but you may be doing exactly what God wants.
When success comes, remember where it comes from. Use that success to encourage others, and to show God’s glory.
And if you don’t feel like you’re experiencing success, don’t worry. Most of us have been there. Keep working and studying your craft.
Jeanette Gardner Littleton has been a full-time writer and editor for thirty years. She and her husband, Mark, direct the annual Heart of American Christian Writers Network conference each November in Kansas City.
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