The other day I had coffee with another editor and magazine writer. Toward the end of the conversation a few names came up of guys I think of as some of the best magazine writers alive today. He actually knew them. I just stalk them on social media and via their articles in Esquire.
We were discussing prizes in the profession and he made the point that even those guys—the very best—will tell you that they’re not as good as others. They’ll point to problems in their writing and insecurities with their creativity. They see all the flaws.
This really struck me. The people at the very top of my profession aren’t satisfied.
One of my favorite writers, Donald Miller, actually wrote an entire book about this. He called it “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years,” but he could have called it “I Got Everything I Ever Wanted and Then Realized That Wasn’t the Point and That Was Really Hard So I Had To Reevaluate My Life and Make Some Major Changes.” The title wouldn’t have been quite as catchy, but I think people could relate.
Anyway, Miller makes a lot of good points in that book (can’t recommend reading it enough), but my general take away was that it’s really important to intentionally set the right goals in order to live the right story. I constantly realize I’m doing things that are exhausting me, but not working toward my true goals. I have to reevaluate a lot. And sometimes I forget to for long periods of time.
I see those writers as the best. The pie in the sky goal. But for me it’s a good reminder to know that they’re not satisfied at the top. Because it reminds me to enjoy the ride, stop and smell the roses (with word plays like this, I have no idea why Esquire isn’t banging down my door), and other brilliant metaphors for relishing the moment in which you’re living.