I'm a number-watcher, I admit it. And last night I got my 100,000th book rating on Goodreads. There was no phone call from the president, no medal awarded ... not even a special cake. But I'm in the 100K club!
Milestones are, if not an excuse for cake and medals, then an excuse to reflect.
I became a full-time writer a few months ago, not by choice, but it was a jump I had been building up courage to take, so being pushed wasn't too terrible a thing.
I never had any ambition to be an author. It wasn't a childhood dream of mine. Even when I sent the Prince of Thorns manuscript to a handful of literary agents several years after writing it I wasn't thinking in terms of becoming an author. It was just what you did with a manuscript once you'd written it and enough friends had pushed you hard enough in that direction.
I did, however, take the stories themselves very much to heart. Many of the character and places I read about are part of the landscape of my imagination. Which really means that decades down the line they are part of who I am.
That 100,000 ratings means that 100s of 1000s of readers have read my work. And of them a good number have really enjoyed it. And of those, some core number will have read one of the books at just the right time in their lives when the character or situation can strike some deep chord with them, and for those people I might actually have written a book that becomes part of who they are. My books might be for them what my heroes of fantasy's books are for me.
And that's pretty amazing.
I find myself in an unexpected and privileged place, and every now and then it's good to pause, look around me, and realize it. One hundred thousand ratings is, if nothing else, a good excuse to do just that.