Tonight is the big college football national championship game. The first one ever decided via a playoff system. Oregon vs. Ohio State.
Many could care less. But those who do number in the millions. We have some extended family who are pretty excited. (One used a foam-head Duckbill hat as his Christmas tree topper – see the picture to the right).
Be careful if you disparage Ohio State while in the company of bestselling author Rachel Hauck. You may lose a limb. (Considering that her agent is an Oregon fan you have to wonder about their recent conversations.)
But tonight’s success will not last much beyond the headlines. For example, can you name the national college football champion in 2010? Or name the winner of American Idol in 2013? Or what was the bestselling Christian novel in 2009? Or, even harder, name the five top selling Christian novels in 2014. Last week Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, started a bookclub…what book did he ask everyone to buy and read with him? (It sold out on Amazon within minutes of the announcement.)
My point is that success is fleeting. On top today, forgotten tomorrow. But that depends on your definition of success, doesn’t it? Author and Artists tend to depend on adjectives like “bestselling” to “award winning” to define whether or not they are doing a good job. The problem is that the arts rarely have a method to quantify success. So sales numbers, or awards, or bestseller lists become the criteria upon which everyone relies.
I celebrate every author who does achieve bestseller status or receives an award. They are confirmation and encouragement that is hard to achieve. But at the same time I know of writers who are wildly successful with their writing but will never garner such attention. They labor with stories or with non-fiction topics that have a focus that will not capture the imagination of the commercial market or go viral in social media.
Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear the stories of authors who receive letters from readers telling of changed lives? I’ve seen a few over the years and they can be astounding. Readers, of novels or non-fiction, choosing life over suicide. Birth over abortion. Recommitment to marriage instead of divorce. Studies instead of drugs or sex. Don’t know about you, but I’d like to define that as success. And a type of success that is not “fleeting” but “eternal.”