Does Success Scare You?
In the last thirty days, I had accumulated ten published pieces of writing. It’s as if all my work was being held until after the U.S. political drama was somewhat stabilized (ha ha). Or the stars aligned. Or Dylan put out a new album. Then Voila! I was made a regular contributor on two online blogs, featured on three, and became one of six writers to help launch a humor anthology. Four essays were already up and running. Responses from editors were complimentary. Their edits were minimal. I even got a “I really like this.” And an “I love it!” I was heaven bound. I had waited a lot of years to hear those words. As I slogged through several bill-paying careers before I could consistently sit down and write, I would just imagine success.
Actually, I spent about one hour in heaven. Then I began to shake a little. I ate a Danish and drank coffee again after I had sworn off. I paced my living room. Holy crap. What do I do now?
A friend told me once, “I think you fear success. I have seen you sabotage your path to it.”
I recently watched a documentary about Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Columbian author. Something he said really woke me up. Marquez had just discovered his first published piece in El Espectador, the Columbian newspaper. He said that the title of the story was eight columns wide. And the editor was giving many compliments to his writing. You’d think Marquez would be jumping for joy. Not so. He said, “And my thought at that moment was that I’d got into a hell of a mess because there was no way to go back, so I had to remain a writer for the rest of my life!”
Although I am no Nobel Prize winner, I had a similar thought. Oh, damn. Now I have to keep it up, that success. What if it was a fluke? What if heaven had shined down for just a moment? Can I do this for the rest of my life?
Isn’t it ridiculous that we long for success all our lives and when it finally comes, we question it? Turn it over in our minds? Work it to death?
I decided that maybe I won’t write the rest of my life, but I will sure as heck write the next essay. And the next blog post. And the ones after that. Until, who knows?
I found the only solution to the fear of success was to sit down and WRITE.