Sunday, December 2, 2007

The whole reality of it all...

Sometimes I think success is a trade-off. You trade one thing to get another. God knows, I've traded away most of my life for the time to write and the space to write in. I don't see my family except in passing, and my real-job gets little more than in-grained muscle memory.

I like my Christmas job, because for a short time it's good to be Queen. People are always asking to work at my store. I have the largest amount of people, with the least amount of sales. (the mall is a dead mall, although it's gone upscale and revitalizing.)So I try to share people out, and yeah--they refuse to go. Maybe it's the free soda in the back, or the way everyone gets the same memos, I dunno.

But...I think, and I've been thinking about it for years, what the difference is between those who succeed in writing and those who don't.

I'm always jealous of people who can point to their families and say, "my husband is coming with me to RWA," or "my kid made her own dinner because I was writing." My kid whines, and my husband gave me food money and waved me off. "Bye, have a good time, see you whenever." He almost drove me to the airport, but didn't feel like waking up early.

Support is like water, bouying you up when you're trying to swim.

The flip-side is sacrifice. People call it drive, but it's really what you're willing to give up. How much you can pare away, what you can stand to lose, what you're willing to gamble on a chance. In the beginning I wanted it all. Then nine eleven came along and I wondered if a houseful of stuff, angry kids and working was a good thing. If I died that day, I'd have nothing to show for my life. I read this really stupid Dear Abby letter the next day, and it said--"dear Abby, my mother passed away, and she was the nicest, sweetest, most self-sacrificing woman ever. She gave her entire life so we could be happy and successful, she did everything for us, and on and on etc."

The guy was sad his mom was gone, but the message was that this woman wasted her entire LIFE, giving to the point where there was nothing left of herself. This guy had nothing to say of her except that she gave it up for the greater good. There was no, she did this, or accomplished that. She gave. And she died.

Abby said, "You must be so sad, she sounded like a saint." But yeah--saints are dead people. When I die, I want my kids to say I taught them to be independent and went on to do my own thing. I did. I accomplished. I don't want a eulogy, I want a memorial.

I got my galleys the other day. The copyright page brought it all home. This was my baby. My book, the reason I gave up so much and what I've been working so hard for. My precious.

It's not a lot of money, and it's not a big company, but it's one hundred percent real-life. I did it. I accomplished.

The rest is up to me. Sacrifice is when you can't swim, but you'll damn well walk the bottom of the pool to get to the other side.


Unhinged said...

I've always thought one of the best ways you can be remembered is to make a DIFFERENCE in someone's life. And it doesn't have to be something that screams its intention to the world, either. It can be something as simple a troubled teenager reading a book, because that's who I was growing up. Writers like Judy Blume, Victoria Holt, and Carolyn Keene, made a huge difference in my early life. They made it bearable.

Dayna_Hart said...

well...geeze. Once again I find that you've said just what I want, only...better.

I'd hate that the only thing I'm remembered for is 'raising some kids and having a somewhat-clean house.' Granted, my kids are one of my legacies, and I take it very seriously that I have to make sure they're...something good to leave behind...but they're not going to be the ONLY thing...I hope.

And um. that was a lot of typing to say "yeah, me too."

jodi said...

Unhingey, I am a big believer in random acts of kindness. I'd never had one done to me before Thanksgiving, but I try to do unto others. I think the world would be a better place if everyone gave as they could. I feed teenagers. It's my secret vice. If they're young, scrawny looking, and work with me, I make sure they're feed. When my kids moved out, someone fed them. I live in a different state, but I try to return the favor. Maybe one day these kids will grow up and pay it forward.

lol--Dayna, you are too funny. To show my regency roots--oftimes, I wax melancholy. It amazes me that people read anything I write. :)