Friday, June 1, 2012

I Want To Make Someone Miserable ~ Life Lessons from A Sleepless Night

When you're starting out on a new venture, in the back of your mind there's always this niggling dream to be the next big thing. As a romance author there's the dream of being the next Karen Kingsbury or Francine Rivers. Or if I'm feeling ridiculously ambitious the next Nora Roberts.

Row of trophies
By Danado0ona via Wikimedia Commons
A Christian musician might dream of being the next Chris Tomlin or want to cross over and be the next Adele. A computer programmer wonders is his pet project will be the next Facebook or Google. There are people aspiring to be the next Donald Trump or Stephen Colbert or Barack Obama.

My aspirations changed over the past week.

The Articles That Planted the Seed

Desmanthus4food, via Wikimedia Commons
Earlier this week, I came across this article by Jon Acuff. In it he talks about a band that many of you have probably never heard of. A group called Seryn. He went to two different concerts by this group - one with about 12,000 attendees and one with 60. The group gave the same effort, energy, and amazingness to both groups.

Last Friday, Laurie Alice Eakes wrote an article about avoiding pride and arrogance while promoting yourself and your books. The fine line between being prideful and being confidant is difficult to walk. What should our aim be? What should we strive for?

The Moment Of Agony

Also this week, a new book by one of my favorite authors came out. I have a lot of authors I like but only two are on what I call Auto-Buy. I pre-order their books just because it has their name on the cover. I know when they're released. I wait in agony for the Kindle download (or in this case the UPS guy because I accidentally pre-ordered the paperback version instead of the Kindle version).

Until recently there was only one author on my auto-buy list. For years I have looked for her book every summer. And I have yet to be disappointed. The problem is that every year it comes out, I buy it, and then I tell myself to read it at a normal pace.

I never listen. I stay up insanely late, telling myself "just one more chapter" until I either pass out from exhaustion or finish the book. The next day I'm tired, cranky, and miserable because I didn't get enough sleep AND I have to wait a whole year before I get to read anything new by that author. While I had every intention of savoring and drawing out the pleasure of reading the book, I devoured it in a matter of hours.

The author I recently added to my auto-buy has a book coming out today. I'm guessing another sleepless night lies in front of me. Both of them publishing in the same week - they're cruel.

A New Goal

While it would be great to be the next Karen Kingsbury (seriously, who doesn't want that many sales?) I've set myself a new goal. A new dream.

I want to make someone miserable.

I might not ever make hoards of people agonize over the release of my next book, but if I can make one person yearn for it, then it's worth putting my heart and soul in it. If someone is yawning at work the next day because they "just one more chapter"ed their way through my book the night before, that will be my trophy.

Lynn comments on nearly every blog I write. Lynn, you have no idea how it makes my day to see that email telling me there's a new comment on my blog. If she is the only one who reads it, then it's still worth putting all the effort and thought and time into these posts. I'm assuming she comments because she likes them and gets some benefit out of them.

Finding Your Goal

In whatever you do there is the apex goal and then there is the true reward. Figure out what the true reward is for you. Maybe it's having one person use your song as their alarm song. They want you to be the first thing they hear when they wake up in the morning.

Don't measure your success on it's size, but on it's quality. While it'd be wonderful to be the next Steve Jobs or Billy Graham, it's also great to be a manager that helps employees grow, the pastor of a small town church that's winning souls, or the singer on the corner that brightens someone's day every time they pass by you on the way to work.

Define your quality goal and then seek it. If fame and fortune comes with it, great. But don't make that your target.

Photo Credits:


  1. so true, i think the fun and inspiration can get sucked right out of writing if we try too hard--that's just me---you almost made me cry---i do read your post because i enjoy them and want to!! you be encouraged today and blessed:)

  2. Hi Kristia Ann! Great post. :) I would have to add that to make the reader miserable you would first have to make your characters uncomfortable and the situations they find themselves in miserable. There is something quite satisfying reading about other peoples' lives and the fixes they find themselves in. Keeps the reader flippin' pages trying to find out how they are going to get out of it. :) All the best as you write for His Glory. Lucy

  3. Hi, Lucy! Thanks for stopping by. So true that readers are only going to crave your books if they love your characters. That is what pulls me to my favorite authors. Their characters become so real through their trials and growth. Intense plot might have them flipping the pages, but intriguing characters will have them savoring the words.

  4. Kristi! Loved the post & gave me a whole new outlook on success, altho I do realize to be realistic in pursuing my goals, I still dream. :)

    Great post.

  5. Of course. Who among us wouldn't love to write the next Redeeming Love that stays on Lifeway's top selling list forever? But those things are rare and if we measure our success that way, we'll be always disappointed.

    So glad you stopped by, Caroline, and that the article was helpful to you!

  6. Kristi,

    Very thought provoking post! I hear ya on wanting someone to "one more chapter" their way through your story. Sounds like the perfect goal.

    One of my goals has always been to use my words as that tool to make the reader stop and evaluate God's role in their own life- to create characters that become the evangelist to the reader. This goal is especially important to me because I'm so NOT GOOD with words verbally (in person), but I love to find that perfect combination of written words that holds the readers interest and touches the heart.

  7. I love the ability to revise and think and edit until we write just the right words. I wish we had an edit button in real life!