One of the corollaries of the “if only” game is that there are some writers out there who could not possibly have reason to worry about anything as they have achieved a level of success that is unsurpassed, and who represent the pinnacle of the writerly world.
Examples include King, Stephen; Rowling, J.K.; Meyer, Stephenie.
There’s a temptation to think that once an author has “made it” and made it bigger than anyone else, this author will have achieved boundless happiness and contentment and couldn’t have a thing to complain about.
In the comments of my recent “When Dreams Become Expectations” post, as Ermo pointed out, people tended to think of true satisfaction always being perennially elusive, unless you’re a Rowling and King. Then, it seems, people believe that would be completely satisfying.
I don’t know these mega-authors personally, but signs point to this not being the case. In the recent Oprah interview, Rowling said, “You ask about the pressure… At that point, I kept saying to people, ‘Yeah I’m coping…’ but the truth was there were times when I was barely hanging on by a thread.”
Not the sound of someone who feels like they have it made in the shade. I personally doubt Rowling would trade in her success and the sheer level of love for her books for anything, but I also don’t think there’s anyone who ever feels total and perfect contentment and satisfaction with their station. We keep striving no matter how high we’ve climbed, even those who have climbed the highest. Pressure can cut into satisfaction, and the spotlight can be uncomfortable.
It all reminds me of the speed of light (or at least my own understanding of the speed of light, which is likely wildly flawed). The way the physics of light works is that no matter how fast you personally are traveling, from your perspective a beam of light will still look like it’s traveling at the speed of light. You can’t travel alongside a beam of light. There’s no catching up.
And I think there’s actually something great about that. There will always be something to chase, always something to strive for, always another horizon to pursue. Who wants to be perfectly contented? Where’s the excitement in that? There will always be something great to chase around the bend.
Photo by Mila Zinkova via Creative Commons