Sunday, December 15, 2013

What is success?

by: Joelle Charbonneau

This week something unexpected happened.  I woke up on Thursday to an e-mail from my editor letting me know that THE TESTING would appear as #14 on the 12/22/2013 NY Times YA Extended Best Seller list.  To say I was stunned would be a huge understatement.  I think I turned white and my mother and husband both thought that something was very wrong when I called them.  Yeah – I guess I don’t handle good news very well. 

Since Thursday, I’ve thought a lot about what hitting the list means.  Most people would say that The Times list is a mark of a successful writing career.  


Oh – don’t get me wrong.  I’m thrilled and astonished and still processing the fact that something I wrote hit that list.  But as important and wonderful that is, I don’t consider it to be my achievement alone.  Yes, I wrote the book, but it took an enormous village of people who believed in THE TESTING to help push the boulder up the mountain.  My editor, my agent, the HMH marketing, sales and PR teams, and my family and friends – everyone worked tirelessly to make sure readers learned about The Testing.  This is a group effort and the spot on the Times list belongs just as much to them and to all of you as it does to me.  That doesn’t diminish the accomplishment, but I know there is no way I could have hit this place in my career without enormous support.

Hitting the list is a successful group effort.  And I am so proud that I am a part of the team that did something so cool!  But as I sit behind my computer screen, I find that though the tag line behind my name is different, I am not.  I still measure my own personal success in the same way that I always have.  By getting up in the morning, putting my hands on the keyboard and filling the pages with words.  Each day that I write is a success.  Each day I add pages or edit a story is a success.  Each time a reader picks up one of my books and finds something engaging about my work is a success. 

I don’t know what will happen to my writing career in a year or two or ten.  At this moment, I don’t have a contract for another book.  Who knows…I might never get another one.  Those are things out of my control.  The only thing I can control is sitting in front of my computer screen and writing.  And every day I do that is a success.  Hopefully, you consider every day that you sit down and work to be successful as well.

And most important - thank you.  Thank you to each and every one of you who has read my blog posts and maybe even read my books.  You are part of the reason that I get to write every day and I am more grateful to you than you can ever possibly know.


David Cranmer said...

BIG congrats, Joelle!

Joelle Charbonneau said...

Thanks, David. I'm still not sure I am processing the whole thing very well. It doesn't feel real:)

Kristopher said...

Well deserved Joelle. Congratulations!

Mary Jo Burke said...

Success comes from a job well done from baking a cake to winning a Nobel Prize. Congrats! The Testing is way cool!

Dru said...

Congrats on making the NY Times Bestsellers List.