Achievement. Everyone has a different concept of its meaning. For some, it's a shiny trophy. For others, it's financial independence. For some, it's recognition by their peers. Whatever your definition of achievement is, it also seems to be understood that you worked to get there. It wasn't handed to you on a silver platter. It took time, tears and sweat.
Why is it we pay little attention to achievements that have come easily? Don't they count? I'm facing this dilemma right now as I'm enjoying rather pleasant numbers in my mystery game sales. I should be over the moon, but I'm not. Why? (you may very well ask). The reason is because I find my games incredibly easy to write. I can ( and have) started a new game on a Monday and sent it to my editor before the week was out. They're a piece of cake. Consequently, when my sales go well, I rather pooh-pooh the results because achievement shouldn't come this easily.
Throughout childhood and adolescence we're (or I was) taught conflicting lessons. On the one hand we're told our best is good enough. No, you didn't win the race, little Johnny, but you tried really hard! Good for you. On the other hand, we're told finish first. Reach your potential. If it's too easy, then try something harder. Easy stuff doesn't count.
I'm sure this is why I've moved on to writing (or attempting to write) actual novels. Yes, plots and characters still come easily to me, but the actual writing? It's hard. It's hard because I want it to be good, but also because it takes time. It takes dedication. I have to really want it. Therefore, if I achieve success with this, it counts. Heck, right now I'd declare victory if I could finish the draft! (no, I wouldn't really, but I would be very very pleased).
When I plan my plots I want them to be tricky, but sensible. When the solution is revealed I want people to say "of course!", but not to have figured it out pages and pages before hand. All the clues have to be there, but they're not lying out in plain sight. It should take some work. I want people to have a sense of achievement if they do figure it out. I know I'm disappointed as a reader if I unmask the guilty party less than a quarter of the way through the book. Where's the fun if it's too easy?
I'm writing this manuscript because it is hard. It is taking work. Every day I get a little bit closer to being able to pat myself on the back. I'll pay attention to this, because it isn't too easy. But trophies are nice, too. I'll keep practicing my "I'd like to thank the Academy..." after all, a girl can dream, can't she?
Do easy achievements count? What counts for you?