Where You Are

One of the hardest truths to perceive is the one written into this country’s very Declaration of Independence: that all people are created equal. We hear this and we all say, “Yes, of course,” because within us in is an independent soul that knows its freedom—a freedom far beyond the right to vote or own land—is rooted in its absolute equality. But then, say, you publish a book, and your book sold this many copies, and that other writer’s book sold that many copies, or your book was nominated for an award, but that writer’s book actually won the award. Equality is nice in theory, but is the first-time indie author really equal to J. K. Rowling or William Faulkner? And if a singer stands on stage, and 10,000 fans scream as she hits her first note, can you really say all 10,000 screaming fans are equal to the lone singer for whom they scream?

For don’t some of those screaming fans wish they were that lone singer? Doesn’t the indie author wish her publishing life could mimic that of Rowling’s or Faulkner’s? And will not some of us be remembered and the rest pass as forgettable as dust? Now it is easy to look out at the world and perceive nothing but kings and peasants, queens and serfs. If this were the case, you would be a fool not to at least seek the throne. Democracy is for chumps.

How easy we forget that if we want J. K. Rowling’s life, or Paul McCartney’s, or Queen Elizabeth’s, we would have to first forsake our own. Yes, we would be rid of our disappointments and wounds, but also every kiss we’d ever received, every dream we’d ever dreamed, every meal we’d ever eaten. All of it gone. It is an insidiously suicidal fantasy, which if put by some genie to the test would be almost universally rejected.

It would be rejected by indie authors and paupers in Bombay, by rock stars and nannies, by congressmen and presidents. We would with equal force reject our own extinction, not simply to cling greedily to life, but in surrender to our own value. You surrender the throne that never existed to be where you are, the starting point for all life.

9781935961994-Perfect_CS.inddWrite Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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