How does it feel to achieve a breakaway success?

L.M. Montgomery

Dear Literary Ladies,
I dream of the day when all my efforts might come to a completely successful culmination. Like many writers, I’ve had some modest coups, but who doesn’t long for that big breakthrough, a work that shines in the national spotlight, or climbs the bestseller lists? How does it feel when you first realize that your work has achieved this kind of dreamed-about success?

My strongest feeling seems to be incredulity. I can’t believe that such a simple little tale, writing in and of a simple Prince Edward Island farming settlement, with a juvenile audience in view, can really have scored out in the busy world. I have had so many nice letters about it and no end of reviews. Most of them were very flattering. Three or four had a rather contemptuous tone and three were really nasty.

One of the reviews says “the book radiates happiness and optimism.” When I think of the conditions of worry and gloom and care under which it was written I wonder at this. Thank God, I can keep the shadows of my life out of my work. I would not wish to darken any other life—I want instead to be a messenger of optimism and sunshine.

. . . It is a joy to feel that my long years of struggle and unaided effort have been crowned with success. But that success has also evoked much petty malice, spite, and jealousy. It does not hurt me, because none of my real friends have been guilty of it. But at times it has given me a sort of nausea with human nature.

L.M. Montgomery, from The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery, Vol. 1, 1908

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