Please welcome today’s guest blogger, Eleanor (Ellie) Gustafson! Ellie’s short stories and articles have appeared in a number of national and local magazines. Her pallet of experiences (including everything from being a minister’s wife, teacher, musician, writer, and encourager, to horses, building houses, tree farming and making maple syrup) has helped bring color and humor to her fiction. In many of her stories, Ellie explores the cosmic struggle between good and evil in light of God’s overarching work of redemption. You can learn more about Ellie by visiting her website, EleanorGustafson.com.
Germania Cuthberte had that once-in-a-lifetime moment of ecstasy as she held in her two hands the very first copy of her very first book—The Effulgence of Convoluted Specianity. The beauty of the cover, with its gauzy layers of Delphic abstruseness. She sighed rapturously. Her book—now on the market. She had to pinch herself to make sure she was awake.
This was her first copy, but the book had been out and about long enough to have soared to best-seller status on Amazon, with several pages of reviews. She had posted it on Goodreads and with no effort whatsoever had acquired seventy-three reviews. Just the mention of the title on Facebook brought scores of Likes.
Reviewers praised her research, her energetic prose that evoked poetry, her deft hand that made such profound scholarship read like a mystery novel. She grasped the volume to her chest, then pinched herself again to make doubly sure she was awake.
This time, she did wake up, and reality crashed upon her.
Germie had worked her tail off to get her book in the public’s eye, but all her efforts had accomplished little. She had blogged and Tweeted and mimed and even Zoomed. The reviews she had were wildly positive, but she had had to wring them, one by one, out of readers who were rich in enthusiasm but reluctant to tackle review hoops.
Stress. Doubt. Frustration.
Enter the God view of what defines Success.
What has God called me to do in the world of writing? My first novel, Appalachian Spring, sold well and went through a number of printings. None of my other four novels have come near that in sales. Had I copied that first model, I might have had a thing going, but instead, I chose to explore other genres, speaking Truth in new ways. Good fiction is well put together, looks deeply into life, and serves as a vehicle for Truth. I love writing Truth into my novels, and I do it through powerful drama and strong characters. The people of fiction have to be real and genuine, and that always includes bad behavior and bad choices, as well as good. What comes of characters’ choices is what builds the story. I have found Truth to be an excellent platform for writing, and even more so for living.
My new definition of Success—at least the one I’m trying to be comfortable with—is to write from my heart the best I know how, then do my best with publicity and marketing and be content with whatever measure of “success” comes in this world. Genuine success ultimately comes from God and will be posted for all to see, for all eternity.
Take big breaths, Germie. Amazon ratings will never be a valid measure of Truth.