Sunday, January 18, 2009

what really matters

Lately I've been struck by how fleeting life is and all that can change in the span of a few hours. Maybe it's because I'm suddenly wearing reading glasses and sprouting wrinkles. I'm becoming very aware of how the things we deem important today are really so very fleeting. Even books.

Have my boys ever heard of the bestselling Gone With the Wind? The music of the Partridge Family and The Jackson Five? TV with only 3 channels and no remote? Telephones with a partyline? When I describe these things they get really tickled and think I'm making them up:) Then they run to their dad to check my stories. He tells them they are indeed fact, not fiction.

This all helps keep the writing life in proper perspective. The shelf life of a book is very short. Painfully short if it sinks instead of swims. Even a bestseller is quickly forgotten. Authors come and go. Publishing trends change. The market is fickle. I like to keep all these things in mind in advance of this first book coming out. No one is going to carve on my tombstone: She Wrote 'The Frontiersman's Daughter'. By then the book will be out of print and only found in the Library of Congress archives. Negative thinking, you say? No, simply realistic. I don't know how anybody can get a big head from writing a book.

The only things that truly matter are the eternal things, often unseen. How much I love my children and husband. If I am a faithful friend. How big my heart is for missions. My part in helping spreading the Gospel. The moment I believed. A thankful heart. I'm sure you can think of some eternal things yourself.

The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are. -Marcus Aurelius


  1. Hmmmmm.... You say "The shelf life of a book is very short.... Even a bestseller is quickly forgotten"? Ah, but then there are books such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee's only book.

    "I never expected any sort of success with Mockingbird. I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of the reviewers but, at the same time, I sort of hoped someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. Public encouragement. I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I'd expected." – Harper Lee, quoted in Newquist—1964

    So while I'll grant that what you wrote is true for the vast majority of books, it isn't without exception. And I'm offering you the public encouragement Lee hoped for. If your blog is any indication of the writing in your books, I'll love them. Now...get back to it! :)

    (If this is posted twice, I apologize. Our electricity hiccuped.)

  2. Well said, Gin! Thank you! I've always wondered why Lee only wrote one book but then, she didn't have to write a second. Here's my favorite Harper Lee quote from a 2006 interview:

    "Now, 75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods, and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with my books."

    Now, like you said, back to those books:)