Many people are mourning the recent passing of Steve Jobs, and for many reasons. I never knew him personally, of course; like most folks, I imagine, I knew him only as the head of Apple. I have to confess that I didn’t even realize he founded Pixar, among his many other accomplishments.
Ironically, I’d never heard him speak, or bothered to watch any of the recordings of his many speeches and presentations until after his death. My wife, Jan, played a video on YouTube of his commencement address at Stanford in 2005 that was making the rounds on Facebook after the news of his passing had come out. I’d like you to listen to it, then I’ll continue on:
His speech would have been inspirational under any circumstances, but for me it was particularly timely.
You see, after I released SEASON OF THE HARVEST in February 2011, I enjoyed a spectacular explosion in sales. And “spectacular” is no exaggeration: my royalties went from a few hundred dollars a month to $30,000 each in June and July.
Since then, however, sales have tapered off dramatically, with September royalties roughly a third of what they were over the summer months. Is that still a lot of money? Heck, yeah!
But that downward trend started to really challenge my faith. Had I made a mistake leaving my comfy but mind-numbing day job at NSA? What if sales keep dropping? Am I going to have to go out and get another day job to make ends meet? Was this whole thing with incredible sales over the summer just a fluke, a cruel joke?
It was really worrying me, what we might be facing if the downward trend in sales continued. We certainly have enough to get by for a fair while, but it was like a dark cloud over me that I just couldn’t shake.
Then I watched the video you just saw, and felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I realized that the royalties I made over the summer were simply the catalyst for a new phase of my life. I would have been a fool NOT to take the chance and leave my cushy job where I was stagnating, and had been for years. Writing and communicating is my passion and what I really love. Maybe I’ll never be making the sort of money that some other authors are (although I still plan to try!). Maybe I’ll have to go out and get a job to keep enough food on the table when things are really tight. Maybe we’ll have to eat a lot of peanut butter sandwiches for a while if push comes to shove.
But that’s okay. Because after hearing Steve’s words, the stories of the things he both endured and accomplished, I’ve come to the realization that I’m right where I’m supposed to be. The drop in sales? I don’t know if they’ll go up or down, but that drop wiped the stars out of my eyes and made me hungry again. And that’s a good thing.
Thank you, Steve.