Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

Author Ann Kiemel & How Do You Spell “Success”?

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Pssst! Hey, writer! Yeah. You. Over here. I have a question for ya. Well, a few:

  • What’s your goal as a writer?
  • Do you want to sell millions of copies of your book (who doesn’t?)?
  • Make the New York Times Bestseller list?
  • What’s your definition of “success”?
  • How will you know when you’ve arrived?

Or does “bestseller status” seem like an elusive dream, a “happily ever after” fairytale?

Remember Ann?

If the latter, I’ve got somethin’ for ya. Her name is Ann Kiemel Anderson. Ring a bell? If not, don’t worry. We’ll get to that in a min, okay?

A NYT bestseller in the 70s and 80s, Ann Kiemel Anderson was one of my favorite authors. Titles like I’m Out to Change My World, Yes, It’s Incredible, I Love the Word Impossible, and I’m Running to Win ranked high on my Favorites list during my college years. You know. When dinosaurs roamed the earth.

There was something about Ann’s faith-filled, effervescent free verse style that clicked with me. I read just about everything this remarkable young woman ever wrote. Until I didn’t. I moved on post-graduation, discovering other authors. Ann left the public stage to raise her children.

Forty Years?!

I forgot about Ann Kiemel for close to 40 years. (I’m nothing if not quick!) Until last week. When I was cleaning out the basement. And opened up a long-forgotten box of dusty, cobwebbed books.

Guess who was in there? 

So I re-read a bunch of my Ann Kiemel books. For the first time since shortly after the earth’s crust cooled.

After finishing a re-read of I’m Celebrating, I remember how it struck me on my first read, many years ago:

 “Well. That was nice. Yawn.”

Artificial?

The booked seemed… flat. Artificial. Doused with enough saccharine to induce a diabetic coma.

Much as I enjoyed Ann Kiemel’s previous books, I’m Celebrating didn’t resonate. I didn’t fully understand why until just the other day, when I finally read Ann’s last (?) book, Seduced by Success

Raw & Real

Seduced by Success is raw and it’s real in a way that seemed lacking in some of Ann’s prior books, particularly I’m Celebrating. In Seduced by Success, Ann chronicles her broken marriage and her addiction to pain pills and performance. (On page 45 Ann writes that “Codependency was my first book.”)

From the Get-Go

Indeed, Seduced by Success is a very different Ann Kiemel book. This is obvious from the get-go. In the Introduction, Ann’s signature writing style  – spare free verse, all bubbly and champagnesque and free of most upper case letters – is suddenly gone. It’s replaced by regular punctuation, both lower and upper case. Longer sentences and paragraphs. Fuller thoughts.

It’s kind of jolting. Invigorating. Like a dash of cold water in the face. From the opening pages of Seduced, we quickly realize that this book isn’t another ebullient “Hi, I’m Ann” sudsy tome. There’s something else here. Something chomping at the bit. Pawing at the gate. 

What follows is an authentic narrative describing Ann’s “towering, scowling mountain of inferiority and shame” that started in childhood. She says it “had squeezed out my very air… and had to be faced.”

And Ann does. Square in the face. 

Seduced by Success is a quick read. But it’s no puff piece. It asks the hard questions. It’s the most thoughtful and down-to-earth Ann book I’ve ever read. Some of her earlier titles, though uplifting and inspiring, seem fluffy alongside S by S.

A Seismic Shift

From “You watch. You wait. You’ll see” to “Let go. Let God. He can.” It’s a seismic shift. 

Ann Kiemel passed away in 2014. Liver cancer. Shortly after her death, one blogger opined:

Her dream of changing the world didn’t pan out. In some ways, she was a flop and failure.

Not so fast, friend.

How & Why

In the 70s and early 80s, Ann Kiemel inspired millions with her simple, honest faith. Years later, she’s still inspiring. But maybe in a different way. “Life is not all winning,” Ann writes in Seduced by Success. “In fact, very few truly great moments come along.” But “our beautiful uniqueness is created solely by God. No one, and no achievement, can define that.” (Neither can any number of subscribers, followers, Likes, Comments, or book sales, if ya get my drift.)

Fuel

All these years later, Ann Kiemel Anderson’s work still offers hope and encouragement for those who haven’t achieved all they started out to do. She speaks to those who strive to persevere with God even though their dreams haven’t panned out the way they thought they would. There’s an empathy there that’s refreshing, fueled by the “fresh joy of truth” hard-won on the battlegrounds of faith.

A Different Kind of ‘Success’

Thoughtful, articulate and buoyed by hope, Seduced by Success shows a rare, raw side of Amazing Grace. It’ll resonate with those whose story hasn’t included “happily ever after.” For that and more, I think Ann Kiemel did change her world. And not by being a bestseller, if ya know what I mean.

Wait. Is that a Brontosaurus?

Find out more about Ann Kiemel Anderson here.

 

 

 

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