On Success and Defeat

by Elana Roth Parker in ,


I hit a career milestone a few weeks ago. I had my first New York Times Best Seller. Okay, technically, it's not the first book I've worked on to hit the list, but the first one barely counts. (It was the novelization of Mary-Kate and Ashley's movie New York Minute, if you really need to know. Moving on.) It's a huge deal to hit that list. It means both prestige and good sales. It's success. 

But I have to tell you, I'm still having a hard time swallowing it. I'm not sure entirely why. This project has been blessed (if I can say that) from the start. Good momentum. Great people working on it. Great responses from readers. In an era where publishing books is a total crapshoot, this one is actually working. And I'm grateful for it.

So why is accepting it so difficult? Maybe I don't really believe it happened. Maybe it's that this is only one moment of success. Maybe what I really want is the long-term success. Is that wrong? Am I crazy? Maybe.

The truth is, it came on the heels of a major defeat for me. The kind that shakes you up and makes you doubt your self-worth. I don't know why, but it's been hard to compartmentalize these things and not let their impact on me bleed into one another. I would have loved that success to erase the deficit of the defeat, but it didn't. And I feel guilty about that. I should be able to be happy about the one and sad about the other and not confuse the two.

Which brings us around to the ever-present issue of life's timing. Is our ability to enjoy success really just dependent on everything else going on in our lives? What's the right ratio of success to defeat that would let us appreciate the good things and not be too hurt by the bad? I guess I'll be mulling that one over for awhile.

In the meantime, thanks for the win. I really needed it.