Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Rick Christian (Advice for Novelists, Part 31)

We're still continuing our series in which authors, agents, editors, and publicists give their responses to the question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

Today we hear from a well respected agent in the industry who has a great perspective to share. Take it away, Rick:

Don’t measure your success by immaterial things. Authors tend to compare, to measure, to quantify. It's a normal thing I suppose, but your ultimate success really can't be measured by bestseller lists or copies sold. Come the Day of Judgment, God won't be asking about the number of appearances you made on the USA Today list. More important is whether you’ve been faithful with the gifts you’ve received—regardless of the results.

Work diligently at your craft, and it's OK to celebrate honors that come your way, of course. But a bit of perspective helps. Many of the great authors I studied in college died thinking they were failures because their books weren't wildly popular. Melville never realized the success of Moby Dick in his lifetime. It was only recognized as a masterpiece 30 years after his death. He worked on ships and loading docks to keep the wolf away from the door. Chaucer doubled up as a diplomat and secret agent, Milton was Cromwell's fighting foreign secretary, Ben Jonson was a bricklayer.

Also, remember the story of Christ who was often followed by thousands. That didn’t make him successful, and he surely didn’t lay awake nights thinking about the buzz he was generating. I smile when I recall the day he turned his back on the vast crowd to focus on a man who’d shinnied up a tree for a better view. His interaction that moment with Zacchaeus was as important as all the rest. He was OK with an audience of one.

That should prompt great relief. If you have faithfully exercised your talent and have just 17 readers, celebrate with abandon. Thank God for each. His arithmetic is unlike anything you’ve learned. He’s the great multiplier, and if you’ve been faithful, expect eternal impact beyond your wildest dreams. You may not see the results until heaven. But when you get there and he pulls back the veil, act surprised.

--Rick Christian, President of the Colorado Springs based literary agency, Alive Communications. Visit Alive's website here for more information.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great advice, Rick.
It's easy to lose sight of why we write and to begin allowing other, more peripheral, concerns to intrude.
Keeping the main thing - the main thing, will always serve us well.

Brandt Dodson

Nicole said...

Amen. Perfect.

Merrie Destefano said...

That's very encouraging, Rick. Thanks!
Merrie