So I got my royalty statement the other day. I never know exactly why I look so forward to receiving it. Mostly, it's a downer.
I study it thoroughly, pour over the pages trying to decipher the numbers, trying to make some sense of the final statement in the larger context of industry trends and buyer tendencies.
Then I mope around for days wondering why I get up at 4:30 am every day and pour so much of myself into my stories. I contemplate throwing in the towel, finding another outlet for the creative itch that constantly gnaws at my insides.
Then the fear comes. The voice that taunts and says my publisher will disown me forever, cancel the rest of the contract and cast me into the wilderness where all the other once-were writers wander aimlessly mumbling indecipherable prose. I fear my agent will snicker and wish he'd never wasted the time on me.
They're never what I want them to be, the numbers, never enough . . . or so it seems. I have high expectations for myself, for my stories. And reality isn't cooperating.
This time around I turned to a friend to help me make some sense of my disappointment. Another writer, surely he will wallow in self-pity with me. Give company to my misery.
But I was wrong. While he understood and has travelled the same path many times, he pointed me toward the light. He reminded me why I write, why most of us write; he told me ultimately it isn't about the numbers, isn't about the contracts and best-seller lists. It's about Him, writing for God, serving God, and being used of God. It's about plugging on when the road ahead looks bumpy and dim; it's about doing what God has called us to do regardless of the perceived success or not.
Friends are like that. They tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. They put their arm around you when you need it or give you a swift kick in the seat when you need it.
I've said this many times and in my heart I mean it: If only one person reads my book and is touched by it or moved to change or challenged or encouraged then it has all been worth it.
I still mean that. Sometimes I just need to remind my head what the agenda is.