For some people, success equals money. For others, it’s fame. Maybe scoring an agent. Or a book contract. Good reviews. A New York Times bestseller. Your book optioned for a film.
But what if you don’t have those things? What if your attempts at finding an agent fell flat? Or you got reviews that cut to the bone? Or your book flamed out after selling only a handful of copies?
I’d argue, after having been a writer for 20-some-odd years, that success is being happy with what you’re doing. It’s waking up and putting your behind in a chair and writing. It’s trusting the story and yourself to tell it. It’s being so immersed in your work that you utterly lose track of time. It’s doing something you love and watching the disjointed scenes and jotted notes become a book. It’s seeing your vision all the way through.
Success is also not giving up when the money, the fame, or the traditional publishing route doesn’t pan out. Sure, I would’ve loved to have a self-supporting career and accolades and a lot of help getting my work out into the world. But because that didn’t materialize, does that mean I failed? I write every day. I take my time, no pressure & no deadlines, and let the story unfold. I let the characters grow. I am happy. So, for me, the answer is no.
Success, for me, has been finding a small but loyal following of readers. I get emails & letters from people who told me that my novel changed them in some way, made them cry, spurred them to work things out with a family member. Every once in a while, I get told I’ve made someone’s short list of favorite authors. I often get requests to see my new work.
Success, too, is seeing my oldest son win first place for a book he wrote. Success is seeing my youngest son turning into a book lover also. Success is connecting with other people through whatever means you can; in my case, that just happens to be writing.
What about you? How do you define success? Please feel free to share your thoughts & experiences in the comment box below.