Will We Ever Be Satisfied?

I can relate to L.B. Schulman’s post about being afraid of becoming a “one-hit wonder”. Anyone who travels down the path to publication has a career in mind, not one-book-and-kaput.

The photo I used to announce my second deal: “The author with two heads now has two books!”

So when I signed my second picture book contract, I was thrilled. For about 33.7 seconds. Then I became obsessed with selling the NEXT book.

And then I signed book three. Celebration? Yes, but again, the feeling was fleeting. I am now dead-set on selling book four. I’m frantically writing, revising, critiquing and coming up with unique, fresh concepts. I cannot rest with three. There must be MORE.

Why can’t I be satisfied with three? I mean, one is a huge accomplishment in itself, so I should be ecstatic with a triple-play. Instead I feel like, “meh”.

For a while I couldn’t decide if this attitude was good or bad. And then I took the positive angle: I want to make the best books I can. It’s not so much about the quantity as it is the quality. Never being satisfied is the fuel that keeps creativity burning on high. I am working harder than ever to ensure what I produce is top-notch and makes children (and parents) roar with laughter. I want one of my books to be someone’s favorite book. I want to inspire and delight. And I want to keep doing it, over and over and over again.

So maybe it’s good not to be satisfied. It forces me to strive harder, write smarter, and out-do my last story. I keep challenging myself. And that’s a good thing…just as long as I don’t grow more heads!

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10 Comments

Filed under Advice, Writing

10 responses to “Will We Ever Be Satisfied?

  1. Wonderful post. For me, there is this insatiable need to share the euphoria I get from creating, be it art or music or writing. I love your take on focusing on quality and striving to improve yourself through your work. I love this mindset in a creative person and as a consumer of children’s lit – I can’t wait to reap the results of your hard work 😉

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  2. Amy Dixon

    oh boy, I am sooo right in this place right now. I am trying to do my best to enjoy the NOW, and every step that comes with the release of my debut, while still striving to sell more and build my career. Not being satisfied really can be a good thing, as long as we don’t let it overshadow the great moments in our present! So glad I am not the only one who feels this way…thanks for the post, Tara!

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    • I hope to get better about enjoying the NOW, too. There are exciting steps along the way, like seeing your characters for the first time, viewing the interior spreads, and releasing the cover. All exciting moments leading up to the big show–the debut!

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  3. Mike Jung

    Being satisfied is a tricky thing – we should absolutely take as much satisfaction as we can from each success and milestone, because there are so many moments along the way that are worth celebrating. But being satisified enough that we stop wanting more? I suppose that’s a valid experience – some people probably do want to create one book, then move on to other things in life. However, I’m with you, Tara. I want to keep going. I want more career challenges, more new experiences in the publishing realm, more interactions with friends, colleagues, and readers, and, most important, more opportunities to explore and develop my creativity through writing.

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  4. If a writer/illustrator is trying to build a career, I think it is less about “not being satisfied,” and more about just going to work everyday and doing what you love.

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  5. I love your attitude!!! It’s all about the balance of enjoying the moment but never resting on those over inflated laurels.

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  6. I think of publishing as a mountain climb. From the valley you see what you *think* is the summit (Book 1). But when you’re up there, you realize that’s just a lower peak. In reality, the *actual* summit is higher still (Book 2, or making a certain list, or winning a certain award, etc). And you get up there and see you’re still in the foothills – the real summit, your next goal – is even higher. So we all continue to climb, with our eyes always ever upward. And as long as we remain hungry for the climb, as long as we are willing to continue to hike, we will find that publishing isn’t a destination. It’s a journey.

    Be happy with all your good news. Celebrate it and recognize how significant your accomplishments are. But who could ever sit midway on a mountain, with the best views still to come, and want to be satisfied?

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    • Jen, this is how my husband and I feel about our marriage: “Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be.” It’s the same hope for our careers–that it just keeps getting better.

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  7. Great post, Tara. It highlights your ambition in kidlit. Of course, I read it with some envy!!!! Three books…I have none :•( But your attitude to keep plugging applies to all writers-published or not. Thanks!

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