Not too long ago, in the midst of an online discussion among writers, someone asked the question: “How do you define success as a writer?”
People came up with all kinds of wonderfully artsy-fartsy answers that ranged from heartfelt (“when I get my first nice review from a complete stranger”) to the practical (“when I can pay my rent on what I earn from writing”) to the downright silly (“When I can buy my own jet”).
My answer? “When I can see one of my books on the shelf at Walmart.”
Yeah, they gave me a hard time about that. What can I say? I live in the middle of nowhere, and WalMart is about the only place around to buy books. We may be rednecks and hillbillies out here, but some of us are well read rednecks and hillbillies, and there just aren’t a lot of places around here to shop.
Well, we have a Mr. Grocery and a Pick-A-Liquor nearby, but I strongly doubt I’m going to find any good reading material at either of those.
A great bottle of cheap wine, yes. The newest treasure from Shanna Hatfield? Not so much.
So now that I have a story appearing in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles®, I am on a quest. It is my new goal in life to take a selfie standing in front of the bookshelves at the local Walmart with my edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul on the shelf beside me. Doesn’t seem like that should be such a difficult task, now does it?
But my local Walmart doesn’t have it.
Neither does the Walmart in Paw Paw. Or the Walmart on 9th Street in Kalamazoo. I’ve even expanded my quest a bit to the local Meijer’s, but no luck. They all carry Chicken Soup for the Soul in all kinds of varieties, but none of my edition.
Think about it for a moment. What could possibly be more ridiculous than having a major quest in life that involves Walmart?
Not being able to fulfill that quest at Walmart.
I can see it now. I have a long future ahead of me as some sort of crazed creeper in book departments of Walmarts of the world. I’ll devote my days to searching out a copy of my edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul so I can take a selfie with it. By the time it finally happens (and it will happen eventually), I’ll be a gray-haired old crazy woman who runs around Walmart with my cell phone in hand, murmuring to myself about selfies and chicken soup.
Of course, since it’s Walmart, no one will notice.
On second thought, it might just be easier to find a different way of defining success for myself.
Then again, I’ve never been one to do anything the easy way.