Today I felt motivated to talk about mental health. You guys seem to like it because I got the most motivational comments on my article about mental health for writers, you can check it here.
I was thinking about how to be happy.
Actually, how to be happy in general, but especially in this internet world where our value is judged by NUMBERS.
Many writers feel like they suck and they want to give up because of numbers. Yeah, I felt the same about maths at school (sorry, maybe it wasn’t the moment or jokes, anyway…)
Writing is such a passion of ours and having it not recognized as we dreamt of (yeah, maybe it’s a bit of our fault for wanting to be the next J K Rowling in our first book) can really shake our mental health. Because writing is so important for us, seeing the book not being received the way we dreamed can really hurt.
However, there’s a way of being happy even so. And that is by having the right train of thought.
And believe me, I hate those motivational talks.
But what I’m going to tell you is really the truth. Okay, there you go:
Each one of those numbers is a person
If you sold 5 books, these are 5 people.
So you say: duh, Isadora, of course, do you think I’m stupid?
But you have to think about what being a person means.
It means that they have a whole life going on. They have a job (or not), a partner (or not), and a dog called Pepi. They aspire to be farmers or dentists. They had a very fun childhood except for that one time when Joe broke his leg.
They have whole lives going on. And they were touched by your book and your story.
It doesn’t matter if it was only 5 people. It doesn’t matter it was 1 person. What matters is the fact that the person lived through your book.
Now they think differently because of what they read.
They might even forget it, but it is in the back of their minds. And you might have changed their lives forever. They might say: my favorite book is from a completely unknown writer but, boy, is it good.
One of my favorite books is Spud, and it’s not very well-known in the US. It’s from a South African writer.
Also, you’re never going to get to everyone in the world. Why would you want that? Even JK Rowling is said to have got only 15% of the market available for her. 15%! And it’s one of the most sold books in the world!
So, WHY? Why changing someone’s life isn’t good enough for you?
These numbers are not only numbers but lives
We have to be grateful for each person that comes across our books. We’ll never reach everyone out there. Yet every person that we reach gets the message we were trying to pass in the book (even if it’s only “have fun”).
If you don’t think about people, it won’t make a difference if you sell 1 book or 1 million. You won’t UNDERSTAND what those numbers mean.
However, if you do understand that even ONE copy sold means ONE person’s life that you reached, then it won’t matter how many people you get to because each one is significant. Each one is meaningful.
Okay, Ill say it: it’s not about quantity, it’s about… understanding that each number is actually a person with a complex life that gave your book a chance.
Now even if you don’t SELL your book, there’s also someone the book changed: YOU.
Writing is so important to writers in a way that other people can’t understand.
You LEARNED with your book. You learned the lessons you’re trying to convey. You learned about your own characters, the way they act, and you had fun, you cried, you felt emotions.
And being happy as a writer (and as a person in general) is about that. Being grateful for what you get.
Do you want more? Sure! Nothing wrong with that!
But also be grateful for what you have now. And if you don’t even have a book, at least for having the interest, the curiosity (I know you have those because you’re reading this right now).
Everything is a lesson. A learning opportunity.
And I don’t mean to get too motivational here. I told you I hate that.
I just want you to be happy for each person that came across your book. Even if that person is yourself.