By Andrew E. Kaufman
A long time ago (very long) in a land far away (well, not so far, really) there was a little boy named Andrew (that’s me), who always felt he had so much to tell the world. The problem was, as often happens with toddlers, not much of what he said made a whole lot of sense, and as also often happens with toddlers, when the audience grew thin, it only intensified his determination to spread The Gospel According to Andrew. In other words, Andrew was a chatty little boy. In other words, you couldn’t shut him up, even if you wanted to.
I guess you could say I developed a bit of a complex over this.
Then one day, my grandmother sealed the deal when she bought me my first book. It was called Nobody Listens to Andrew, and besides the fact I was sure it was written exclusively about me, and besides the fact that it trumpeted my tragic story, I also discovered something else very important: the true value of the written word.
After that, I was unstoppable.
I became obsessed with that book to where I’d make my grandmother read it to me every night. I’m pretty sure I had it memorized word-for-word—I’m also pretty sure she did, too, even though she probably wished she hadn't
Eventually, I moved on to other great literary works. I think Curious George came next, and after that, I developed a penchant for the Dark Side with Where the Wild Things Are. Needless to say, a thriller writer was born.
By then, I was pretty confident I knew what my path in life would be. I would someday write The Great American Novel—you know, much in the tradition of Nobody Listens to Andrew and the like.
The point of all this (I know you were probably wondering if there was one) is that, as writers, we all come from the same place. We have stories to tell and an intense desire to share them with the world, and while we’d love to make a living at it, most of us would still tell our stories anyway, because really, it’s not about numbers—it’s about The Journey, the unmitigated joy we feel each time we open a blank page and watch our imaginary worlds come to life. That’s where the magic begins.
I think on an intellectual level we know that, but on an emotional one, we often forget it. We become obsessed with sales rankings, reviews, how many Facebook likes we have, and lots of other silly things that in fact have nothing to do with why we became writers in the first place.
We forget what's really important.
The moral of Andrew's story, and maybe yours too, is that whether you sell a lot of books or you don’t, success is only fleeting if you define it within those parameters. But if you don't, there’s one thing that nobody can ever take away, and that one thing is your love for the written word.
And because of that, no matter what, you will always be successful.
Listen to Andrew. The dude knows.