Gilding also talks a little bit about happiness, about how owning more stuff does not actually make us happy. Or not for very long:
We know that for example, what does make us happy is love, relationships, community and doing something meaningful with your life.
Doing something meaningful with your life. The part of my job that makes me happiest is the impact some of my books have on some of my readers. Every time I get a letter from a reader saying, you helped me I am moved. It makes what I do worthwhile.
I have heard dozens, if not hundreds, of other writers say the exact same thing. It’s what Maureen Johnson said about The Bermudez Triangle that no matter what the banners say the letters from readers talking about how Bermudez had helped them outweighed the banners a million, gazillion, quantaribillion to one.
We may worry about our careers: sales, reviews, prizes, blah blah blah. Why aren’t we bestsellers? And if we are bestsellers—will our next book be a bestseller? But those things are worries. If they do make us happy it rarely lasts long.
Every time a readers tells us that our book helped them deal with their problems, helped them realise that they’re not alone, helped get them through a really awful time in their life, every single time that happens it gives meaning to our work.
You helped me is a tremendously powerful statement. I have heard it more in the four years since my first novel was published than I’d heard it in my entire life prior to being published. It gives me great joy. It helps me get through when the writing is crap. It helps me.
When I was a teenager books were a very powerful force in my life. They helped me. It’s a long time since I was a teen but books are still helping me.