Yesterday, I think it was, BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour had a little feature correspondence from a lovely person who categorised herself as kind of ‘normal, average.’ No thrilling success story, just regular muddling through life.
‘Just the once,’ she implored, ‘Just one salient piece about those of us who quietly persevere, who persist through life, facing ordinary challenges and getting on with it. We can’t all be the thrilling success stories you regularly feature, after all.’
Apparently the listener feedback was remarkable. There are a lot of folks who do get on with life without achieving the superlative successes, the accolades, of those few who may well have been supremely talented, but who may also have had just that soupçon of good fortune that others have not. For those many, among whom I count myself, we have to live with the joy of the effort, of appreciating the intrinsic value of what we’re doing. Never mind about the dreams of success — that distant goal is probably not going to be for us to achieve.
Another example: today’s Guardian features another ‘New Start after 60‘ piece. She was a chief executive at Rover who always wanted to write. Now she’s written a best-selling, and award-winning novel. Success! How lovely, and I’m not gainsaying this. Good for her! Except. Except that I pitched my own humble story, to the same platform, a month ago, trying to emphasise that I was finding some peace in the perseverance, in the trying, working towards a new career in writing, and that writing involves novels, after my year-long diarising effort. And no accolades have come my way at all. But I pursue this activity because it’s what I have to do. Because, in the end, I love it.
I can’t very well write to The Guardian and complain about being ignored, can I? After all, wasn’t the point of my pitch that I’m loving life, loving the creativity released by my effort? So I can’t very well grumble if my effort is overlooked in favour of someone else’s story, someone who’s actually achieved success. That would tend to negate my delight in the trying.
But I can’t pretend that it doesn’t feel like a slap in the face.