During my conversation with Patricia Park this past Tuesday, the debut author of Re Jane described an all too familiar experience for many a young author. As the bright, hardworking, college-educated daughter of Korean immigrants, she was an expectation and desired to have some kind of tangible success in her burgeoning professional life. Unfortunately, Patricia wanted to be a writer – specifically, a novelist. There are few tangible successes for beginning novelist. Except there are. As she said in our conversation, when asked, “How is it going?” she often wanted to answer, “Great!” because she had just found a new character or gotten rid of an unnecessary scene. For a novelist in the thick of a story, these little discoveries are success. In fact, any time a writer finds the right character, or the right scene, or even the right word she experiences the unmistakable, effortless pleasure of success. She just can’t share it yet with anyone else.
It is important for me to periodically remind myself that success doesn’t actually exist outside of my imagination. That is, success is not like a publishing contract or a game of Yahtzee! You cannot measure it or hold it in your hands or accumulate it. Despite all my glittering goals and dreams and ambitions, all I actually desire is the feeling I believe I will experience when those goals, dreams, and ambitions are known.
Which is why an author can experience success with a single word. What we call success is the alignment of action with authentic desire. The right word is an action that expresses our authentic desire to tell a story. The moment this happens, inside and outside are one and there is nothing to want except more alignment. All those things I believe I want will come by and by, but I needn’t worry myself with them. Just as I do when I tell my stories, I need only seek the next most aligned word, or aligned story, or aligned anything and won’t have to wait another moment for the success I already have.
"A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.
You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com