Me and popularity have had quite a time over the years. As a real young buck, I don’t really remember there ever being a real concept of popularity. I remember having friends. I remember it being easy to make friends. I remember it being simple. As I got a little older and started entering the school years, it was still not that difficult. I had moved from Minnesota to South Carolina and felt as though for the most part I had made some rather immediate friends with very little effort.
As I got a little older and a lot more awkward, popularity suddenly became an issue as I found myself in complete lack of it. In fact, for a while there, one of the largest goals in my life was to increase my popularity. I did some things, said some things, and hurt some people that even to this day I feel guilt over, all in the sake of attempting to increase my popularity.
And then I got older and moved again and suddenly my popularity increased (or so I’m told…I’ll get back to that later). Even people who treated me rather horribly in previous encounters suddenly became close friends. Perhaps I changed, perhaps they did…who knows and who cares.
Now that I’m a suburban father spending his days with his family, popularity isn’t as much of a concern as is trying to ensure I don’t completely kill my friendships from a lack of attention to them…I fear that in many cases I’ve probably done the same to my friendships as I have to every household plant that I’ve ever been the caretaker of.
But friendships aren’t the topic for today…popularity is.
You see, over the years I’ve come up with a concept, one that I know does not hold any true merit, but one that I like to believe to be true anyways, even if its purely for myself. The concept is that popularity is really only a thought when you don’t have any. For myself, when I was what others would call popular, I never gave it a second thought. What I mean to say is, I never actually even considered that I was popular. I had friends, and it was cool. It wasn’t until later when being told by less popular folks that I was such that I finally came to the possible realization that my childhood goal of attaining popularity had finally been achieved. Too bad I screwed that up by getting married and having kids, right? 🙂
These silly side comments of mine sound much more depressing than they are intended to be, I promise.
I’m merely trying to make a correlation here, people…and also trying to keep things from sounding all sad like, because, well, this discussion can easily sound sad.
You see, I started realizing something about my life as an author as of late. I’m not, in any way, a best selling author, I’m not one that anyone actually knows about, I’m still feeling lucky if I make more than one sale in a two week period, outside of immediately following book releases, of course. I’m still working toward that goal of selling 30 books over the course of 30 days. I’m still early on in that process.
But I’ve found myself, on more than one occasion, looking at other authors who are in the same situation as me, namely, that they are self-published, still looking for their audience, and have been around for about as long as I have. I like to do this from time to time as something of a litmus test to make sure that I’m not falling too far behind, considering my fear of marketing tactics. However, all too frequently, even though I find that I’m not all that far behind most of them (there are one or two who are doing amazingly well and I can’t fault them for it one bit because of how hard they work), I see that they appear to be much more popular than me.
The grade school version of me starts wanting to come to the forefront, whining and complaining about how I want to be popular too.
It’s pretty stupid of a thing in the first place because, A. these people actually have a social media platform which allows them to interact with their audiences in a much more public manner and B. most of these people that I see them interacting are people who know them from means outside of just reading their books. In other words, I know that there’s absolutely no reason for me to feel disheartened…yet, I find this irresistible urge to do so anyways.
It’s something about that depression of mine, I think. It just really wants to take over my positive attitudes about anything.
But here’s the thing, folks. In that whole manner of grass is always greener and whatever else, I know that I’m overlooking way too much of what’s going on in my own circle. Not only do I have an amazing bunch of family and friends who constantly express their support and love for my craft, but I also have a growing number of actual fans who find me through whatever means and reach out to me through direct e-mail or whatever else. My circle of influence has begun to grow as well, as I find myself receiving e-mails from other authors and researchers and creators looking to me to help support their causes. And, over all, I actually, quite frequently, find myself thinking (in the back of my head, of course, because anything more would just be downright frivolous excitement) that I actually feel like a real honest to goodness author.
I don’t want all of you thinking that I actually sit around all day moping because I don’t think that I’m popular enough. It’s not the case at all. I’m using a bit of hyperbole here to make a point. But the point is…I think I actually am popular. Not, like, Rowling popular or anything, but small time indie author popular, maybe. Or at least I’m starting to get there…
At the very least, my circle is growing. And that’s exciting.
And it’s because of folks like you that I’m able to feel this way. The people who read the blog, who comment on the updates, who send me positive thoughts and messages and whatever else just to show that they actually want me to succeed. I can’t tell you how excited I get whenever I receive a message from someone saying they’re in the midst of reading one of my books, or that their book club is taking it on, or, even better…that they loved it and can’t wait for the next one.
It’s, quite honestly, what keeps me going, what helps me get past the lazies on a daily basis and keep writing. Because the only way this train is going to keep moving forward is if I keep putting words on the page. And your support, all of your support, keeps me fueled up to do so.
I may not be the most popular boy in the room, but I’m still feeling mighty loved.
And I just want you to know that.
Have fun out there!