Do you know the Taoist story of the Chinese farmer and his son? If not, here’s a brief version.
A farmer has a strong young son. The neighbors say, “How lucky you are.” The farmer shrugs. The son breaks his leg and can’t work. The neighbors say, “How unlucky you are.” The farmer shrugs. The army comes and takes all the young men off to war, except the farmer’s son. The neighbors say, “How lucky you are.” The farmer shrugs. And so on, and so on...
The point of the story is that we can’t see a big enough picture to know how something will ultimately turn out. The farmer knows that, but most of us are so caught up in the moment that we can’t help but react to ‘good’ and ‘bad’ news.
My Farmer Moment
I’m in the middle of a farmer moment myself right now. Twelve Nights shot up to #1 when it went for its Free Days on Amazon Kindle in early May. Amidst a frenzy of promotion, thousands of people all over the world downloaded copies. Of course, I was thrilled, happy dancing around the living room for days!
A small cloud appeared a week later when negative ratings began to appear on Goodreads. It seems some of the people who picked up the novel just because it was free ended up not liking it. The euphoria of having a #1 novel far outweighed the tiny downside. Overall though, I was quite happy to get back to a less promotional life, quietly blogging and walking my dogs.
Last week another of my novels, Who Is Candid?, was on Kindle Free Days. The downloads were in the hundreds, rather than the thousands. Same promotion. Same frenzy. Totally different outcome.
Can Humble Pie be Tasty?
Honestly, once the initial disappointment wore off (it took a few hours), I felt more in tune with the farmer than ever before in my life! It REALLY doesn’t matter! I kept on Tweeting and Facebooking the promotions, hopefully not obnoxiously, and at the same time I was laughing inside.
Already, by not feeling upset, I could see the upside of NOT having a best selling novel. My friends are amazingly supportive, some more upset than I am. When people are there for #1 and they are also there for #who-knows-how-low, you know you have strong real friendships! All sorts of new ways of supporting our friendships have occurred to me in the last few days. One is the book and blog trailer sharing on YouTube that I announced recently.
Thank You, Readers!
I also appreciate more than ever the readers of this blog, most of whom are nameless and yet keep visiting by the hundreds every day. The same day my novel had the least downloads, I found out that the blog had been nominated for 2014 Blog of the Year. The next day I was invited to a write regular guest post column on a popular website. How cool is that?! You can read my How To post every Saturday at Skelat.com, starting with How to Let Go of Self-Consciousness.
I like to imagine myself as the Chinese farmer, stepping back and scratching my chin. Truth is, it’s all good. The good parts are good, and the bad parts are also good. With a shrug of Taoist chin scratching, Life is Awesome!
And humble pie is really quite tasty!
|Hardly humble! Thank you Molly Ann Wishlade for the photo|
of your cranberry and orange meringue pie!
Have you had an experience that could have felt awful, and instead felt okay, even comfortable? How do you ride the wave of outward success and outward less-than-success? Please share your secrets for serenity, your questions, your doubts and affirmations, in the comments. I look forward to a lively discussion!