"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, June 22, 2009

Do you have a list?

Happy Monday!

The list I'm talking about is not a goals list. Or a to-do list. It's the list that fills in the blank for the question:
"You know you've made it when..."

It's important to have this question answered because no matter how far you get, no matter how much you accomplish, there will always be that someone you think is doing better. Someone who has accomplished more. Gotten a bigger deal. Written more books. You know, that kind of stuff.
And it's not wrong to feel this way as long as you keep these feelings in check.
If anything, it's a good thing and keeps us on track for continuing to work hard and accomplish. Sure, enjoy life and all that, but you know, don't stop moving forward. Don't stop trying.

So why the list then? Why answer the question at all?
For me, it's so I am able to look backwards from where I am and feel good about the things I have done. I have managed to get some things marked off my list. And I still have many more to go.
My list in answer to the question "You know you've made it when..." includes the following:

  • Your book is carried at the Scholastic book fair.
  • Your book is available at Wal-mart.
  • You're invited to an event at the White House.
  • You give a keynote speech.
  • Your book is available at the airport bookstore.

And yes, the list does go on. you get the idea.

My favorite, though not authorly, answer is this:

You know you've made it when there are animatronics made to look like you at Disney World (Johnny Depp can mark this one off his list).

So what's on your list? How will you know when you've made it?


Tess said...

oh, fun, your post matches my post for today...at least a little.

I try not to do this, actually. There will always be something to aspire to, but I think it takes away from the joy of the moment and sets us up to never feel as if we have made it.

It's that elusive balance that you talk about. Aspiring to great things without forgetting that we are in a pretty cool place wherever we are :)

B.J. Anderson said...

Lol, this is great! Hmmm. I just want an agent! :D Maybe once that happens I'll think about the other stuff.

PJ Hoover said...

LOL, Tess! I think the biggest challenge is finding that balance between obsessing with lack of accomplishment and also recognizing all the wonderful these we have done! I'll head over and read your post!

I hear, you, B.J. Take it one step at a time, and hopefully the career path will be there ready and waiting!

Keri Mikulski said...

Love this!! ;)

Heather Zundel said...

I avoid this as much as possible, because then I set up an expectation for myself that may never come to be. I focus on the story and make sure that is good enough for me. Because if I love my story, what else do I need to think that I've made it? :)

Casey said...

I love this idea, PJ.

I mostly have goals, i.e. write an awesome book I'm proud of, get a great agent, get published, etc.

But I do have a couple "you know you've accomplished your dream when..."

Starred review(s).
Affect at least one fan's life for the better.

I'm not thinking too far ahead yet. It's a WIP.

Love yours!

Word veri: obless

Jason said...

Actually, pre-career things could be on the list. "You know you've made it when you get an agent." "You know you've made it when you get a publisher." "You know you've made it when you see your book in print," etc. That's probably what my list will make up of until I actually get published.

C.R. Evers said...

ummm . . .lets see.

My list:

Right now, I'd just be happy to get published. But like you said. . .things change, so in the event that I do get published I will likely change my mind to the following:

My book is available at Barnes and Nobles and put on front display.

I don't have to worry about query letters anymore.

I get fan mail

A famous author criticizes me in public. ;0)

someone recognizes me in public and asks for my autograph.

Anonymous said...

I love this, PJ. And I LOVE your list. Mine "starts" like this:

When I have a fiction book on a bookstore shelf. (I have to recognize that this will make the critique book publication just a BIT bittersweet, but you can bet I'll be celebrating that full-out, anyway!)

When a child can buy a boxed set of my books from the Scholastic Book Order form and is TOTALLY excited about that fact.

Perhaps when son tells me a kid said to him, "Your mom is THAT Becky Levine??! Cool!"

When I get email from a child who liked my book.

And that undefinable, when I feel like I'm one of "those" writers. :)

PJ Hoover said...

Thanks, Keri!

I think of it like icing on my cake, Heather. I love my stories, each and every one, at every stage of revision. But I kind of equate this list to those "wow" moments in life.

Casey, I totally forgot the "affect a fan" one. Receive fan mail. This is a great one!

Totally agree, Jason! Agent. Editor. All really nice list-worthy things. And yes, the book in print.

PJ Hoover said...

You are funny, Christy! OK, I'll make you a deal. When I'm famous, I'll criticize you just once. :)
(just kidding. I don't think I could bring myself to do it).
Yay for the front display!

Oh, Becky, I'm so glad I'm not alone in the Scholastic dream. I hear the royalties can be tiny, but I couldn't care less. It's Scholastic! And to me, you are totally "that Becky Levine".

Solvang Sherrie said...

Love your list, PJ! Now I want to know which ones are checked off :)

First I have to get published! Then I think seeing my book at Target, getting fan mail, getting optioned for a movie, having fans lust over the ARC...oh, I could go on and on!

I was really happy to place 3rd in a contest this year. It felt like an accomplishment, like this isn't just some irrational fantasy I'm clinging to :)

Trisha Pearson said...

Hmmm. Having one of my books published by Scholastic would have to be at the top of my list (if I had a list). It's been the goal I've had in mind since the beginning. Seeing my book in the Scholastic flier, available to so many kids...ah, that would be sweet!

Rena said...

I think that "movie deal" is a pretty big one. Maybe not for the type of books I write now, but maybe someday down the road ...

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Well, everybody has checked off what I would put on a list except: Have my novel on Johnny Depp's nightstand. :-)

Kelly said...

We loved seeing Capt. Jack on the Pirates ride!
I'm pretty easy to be happy with what I've accomplished so far especially with my fam. But writing wise...I would just love to be published and have kids enjoying my books!

Christina Farley said...

I love your list. Right now I'm just trying to finish my book! Then it would be agent, book sale, star reviews, movie, and yeah, that's a good start. :)

PJ Hoover said...

Your contest placement was awesome, Sherrie! And one day, I'll do up my list right, figure out what I've done, and post it!

The Scholastic Dream, right, Trisha! it seems we all share it :)

Movie deal totally, Rena!

LOL, Tricia! My book on Johnny Depp's nightstand would look great with yours!

Kelly, when I saw him on the ride, it cracked me up. It was so lifelike. Talk about staying power.

That is a great start, Christina! Yes, finish the book! The world is your oyster!

Carrie Harris said...

Well, I'd love to have a Carrie Harris action figure, but if that won't happen, I'll settle for a multi-book deal. ;)

lynn said...

I'm with the unpublished authors who are still aiming to get an agent and get published before deciding what kind of success means I've 'made it' :) But I think in the back of my mind, 'made it' to me has always meant earning enough through writing to equal the engineering salary I used to have. Clearly this milestone won't happen for quite some time, so I've got some striving to do!

Danyelle said...

My list includes and agent, an offer, and my books being popular enough to remain in print.

But there's so much demanding the attention of my poor, over worked neurons, that I only think of that list in the quiet moments when I'm not quite conscious. (Or when I'm refreshing my email every five minutes in hopes I hear back about the partial. :p)

Kelly H-Y said...

Animatronics ... I love it!
Hmmmm ... how will I know ... probably when I can stop explaining what it is I do for a living! :-)

PJ Hoover said...

Carrie, I would buy your action figure!

Lynn, I too miss my engineering salary. Man but it paid well!

Why is it waiting on responses has that impact, Danyelle. It's like we exist in a totally different world during that time.

Good one, Kelly! Yes, explaining the job would not be missed!

Thanks for visiting, everyone!

Lenore said...

My goal is have a wax figure of me up somewhere j/k.

PJ Hoover said...

It would be way cool to see you in a wax museum, Lenore! Good one :)

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Well, I see a conundrum in this quest, or, question. Reading some of the comments, and looking back at my life and career, I realized I’d accomplished a few of the things others had suggested. That’s not to brag, please realize, but by way of setup. Specifically, it occurred to me that when you accomplish the sentence with whatever it happens to be, the next thing most of us want to do is…start the cycle again with a new sentence. So, in a good way, you never reach the end point. There’s always one more thing you wanna get done! How fun is that?

Best regards, Galen

Robyn said...

Yes, yes, all of those! Plus I know I've made it when the Queen of England invites me for tea. YEAH!

PJ Hoover said...

I think that's the best part of the list, Galen! The always knowing you can add more part. Thanks for visiting!

Your tea party sounds wonderful, Robyn! Can I come?

Miriam S.Forster said...

You know you've made it when...

-You go on a book tour that lasts longer than a week.

-You walk into the library and see someone checking out your book.

- Your books are available at school book fairs.

- You have more than 4 books in print.

- You make enough off of your books to pay off your debts. :-)

These are all points in the process I'd love to get to. But once I get there, I'm sure I can find something else to aspire to.

PJ Hoover said...

Good ones, Miriam. A nice backlist will be something to look forward to!

adrienne said...

That's a great thing to think about...right now I also can't think too far ahead. Getting published or finding an agent would be next on the list...

Anonymous said...

"You know you've made it when your book is carried at Wal-Mart?"

I see the commercial value there, but honestly I think you have a higher mark than WM!? Indeed, I know its BIG shoes to fill to be like JK or Johnny but who didn't start from the bottom up, and to that, JK didn't become a over-night success. In fact I lived in England at the time or the original releases and it was only when the big market of N. America availed did she gather momentum.

To be honest, indeed people do judge by the cover and the select few more by the jacket... one thing I have kept trying to perfect is the intro, tagline and general look/feel of the book.

To have made it this far, as a published writer, you have proved your worth. Consider finding a extra spice or ingredient to make your next work extra special!

Lenore said...

Thank you. I'll invite you to the unveiling ;)

Aimee K. Maher said...

I'll know I've made it if I continue doing what I love for as long as I'm here. Publication would be nice too...

TJ Brown said...

At this point in time I would have to say ... when I don't have to worry about my mortgage payment anymore. Either I will be financially successful or over sixty. Either way is making it for me;-)

PJ Hoover said...

Great things for the list, Adrienne!

The great thing about somewhere like Walmart, Bethanie, is the number of readers you can reach in some way remote places in the US. Lots of kids never make it to a B&N or Borders.

I know what you mean, Aimee! And I love writing!

LOL, Teri! Here's to you paying off the mortgage before 60!

Lauren said...

I've been working on a few blog topics/short articles, and this is similar to one of mine, namely defining what success is to you. It's something that I very much believe in. Different people have different vision of being successful in various aspects of their lives. Only by knowing what it is for you (and re-adusting as other priorities or dreams come to life) can one be happy.

I will be happy to walk into a random bookstore and see my book sitting for sale on the shelf, but that's how I know that I've made it in my writing career. Or at least by my current definition. :)

Mostly I agree with your comment to one of the comments where you said "finding that balance between obsessing with lack of accomplishment and also recognizing all the wonderful these we have done". I think that is key, and I love how you stated it.

PJ Hoover said...

Thanks, Lauren! I'll look forward to your blog posts!

Dave said...

I know that I will have made it when I get to have real input on the movie based on my best selling book.

Short of that, the reponses from people that have read my stuff and got it have been meaningful.

On a certain level, that connection is what it's all about. I suppose that making it is just connecting with more people.

I'm looking forward to learning more about how you connect with your readers.

PJ Hoover said...

Connecting with readers is a great blog topic, Dave! I'll post on it soon! It is an amazing part of the whole book this that has taken me by surprise!