Monday, July 28, 2008

The Greatest Reward

Don't laugh at all those Hallmark cards ... the truth is, you can find some wonderful nuggets of wisdom there if you can get past all the corn and dripping syrupy sentiment. (Being a drippy sentimentalist myself, I find myself wanting to swim in it, but that's another story.)

Years ago, a friend of mine told me about the very profound advice she found on a Hallmark card. She bought the card and kept it.

This is what it said:

"The greatest reward for all your work is not what you earn from it, but what you become by it."

I have no idea who wrote it.

But I am grateful for it every day.

As an author, I've written 17 published books, 2 produced plays, dozens of articles for health magazines and sports publications, even had a piece published in CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL OF AMERICA. Two of my screen works have been optioned. My biography appears in several different editions of WHO'S WHO. My books have won awards, and one was a #6 Amazon bestseller AND was optioned for film.

... Big deal.

It hasn't made me rich. (I'll pause here while you bend double laughing at me for thinking it ever could.)

It hasn't made me famous. The most exciting `celebrity' thing I ever did was throw out the first pitch at our local minor-league baseball park. As a baseball fan, this meant a lot to me; as far as being well known, well, I live in Charleston among some REALLY well-known authors. Trust me, no one mistakes me for them.

It certainly hasn't garnered me any more respect among people who do know me. Believe me, I'm no hero to my kids. They think of me as the person who drives them places and gets them organized in the morning before school. My older son read my best book and kindly told me it didn't suck; that was his idea of high praise.

The rewards have frankly been sorely lacking in this profession, at least for me. By comparison, prostitution is lucrative, leads often to repeat business and is far more dignified.

The greatest reward is what I've evolved into as a result of all that work. The knowing that I can do it. The confidence that comes with experience and my unshaken belief that no matter how late I finally start on a piece of work (I'm the world's greatest procrastinator -- no contest), I'll deliver it on time and in good shape.

I'm genuinely proud of knowing my craft, and however much more I can improve on myself, I still can look back at the young writer I was and be grateful for how far I've come.

"The greatest reward for all your work is not what you earn from it, but what you become by it."

Well, that's okay with me. Because the reward of becoming is worth all the others combined, and while I haven't yet given up hope of the rich-famous-and-dignified, what I've become as a result of all those frantic days and nights of typing and thinking and re-thinking and re-typing is something I can be proud of now. And who knows? With every new word and project, I can look forward to so much more becoming.

--Susan Sloate

1 comment:

Lynette Hall Hampton said...

Thanks for your post. I like the idea of becoming ... and the what it might bring in the future.