September 1 question – How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?
I’m trying to avoid defining capital S Success as a final destination. Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to make a million billion dollars and see cosplayers dressed up as my characters at Halloween. (If you do that, send me pictures, though.) And to be honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing my books remade as blockbuster movies, either.
There are really only two problems with that kind of an outlook.
The first one is that if I sit here, and compare everything that I am doing right now to hitting the New York Times Bestseller list or my inevitable invitation to Paint David Niven Blue Day at MGM, it makes the things I should be celebrating now seem a little flat.
And the second–not that I’m there, yet–is what happens when you hit the end of the road? You’ve checked off all the boxes, and done all the things… And then, what? Do you just sit around knitting for the rest of your life? Success? Yeah. Been there, done that. I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille.
I think it’s healthier all around to think in terms of successes. What am I doing, right now? What steps have I taken already? What’s that mile marker I just passed?
Successes include the now, and the gee, someday, and the what happens after that? It’s more… career as the ultimate roadtrip, rather than a destination. Because, sometimes, you just have to pull over, and stretch your legs, and admire the world’s largest Adirondack chair. There are places out there you don’t wanna miss, just because you envision “traveling” as going to Paris and seeing the Eiffel Tower. Maybe successes more like a scrapbook that you keep adding pages to than a trophy you pick up at the end of the day.
The moment you print out the first draft of your first ever novel? Success! Managing to revise that whole darn thing? Also success. You collect more and more successes as you go along. From time to time, I run into things to celebrate that never even occurred to me, until I saw them. The first time you’re working on your website, and you realize there is someone else here, reading my work. Success! Or that moment when your readers start talking to each other. Success! My most recent one? I’m going to be in Tales to Terrify… I have… a narrator. **brag, brag** Or maybe… learning that a really good answer to How are you? Is “Great! Sold a short story.” Gotta tell you, talking about my writing in the real world is still tough for me.
Maybe success is celebrating where you’ve been what’s happening right now, without losing track of where you want to go next.
So, how’s life? Any successes you want to tell the whole world about?