Last month in San Antonio, I got the chance to listen to Hugh Howey speak. You know Hugh Howey – he’s one of the big selfpublishing success stories of 2013. He and his agent were talking about what it means to be an outlier. During his remarks, Hugh mentioned that he worked 80-100 hours a week. That, like most outliers, his passion drives him to work those kinds of hours.
Points to Hugh for honesty. At least he didn’t pretend all his success fell in his lap. You don’t sell millions of books without a lot of hard work.
I did, however, take exception to his inference that people with passion are driven to work these hours, because they are passionate. Such a comment implies that those of us who don’t work 80 plus hours aren’t passionate, and that simply isn’t true. Every serious writer is passionate about his or her work. God knows if we weren’t, we wouldn’t suffer over each and every word we put on the page.
At the same time, I get what Hugh was saying. If you want to be a BIG TIME OUTLIER AUTHOR, you need to put in the hours and effort. In other words, you can’t put in the bare minimum and expect to success to land at your feet.
But as I listened to Hugh talk about many hours he worked, how he hadn’t seen his wife in eight weeks, etc., I realize – I don’t want to put in that kind of effort. Not at this point in my life anyway. I’m fifty years old. I want to enjoy life a little along with building my career. I want to…I don’t know…see my husband once in a while.
So, I’ll never be an outlier. I’ll never hit Hugh Howey’s level of success. Most days I don’t mind. Because Hugh mentioned another point in his talk. We all have to find our own level of success. My level involves a little more balance.
Oh and the days I do mind? Like at the RWA conference when I’m confronted daily with authors who have achieved a level of success I lacked the gumption to pursue? Those days are why we have chocolate.
What is your level of success?