So how do you know what to aim for?
· One measure of success is money. A few authors make millions! Those are the rock stars. A somewhat greater number actually make enough to live on. The vast majority need a day job or a sugar-spouse if they want to continue eating. And honestly, most day jobs are so much easier than succeeding monetarily in writing. If all you want out of writing is money, why bother?
· Another measure of success is reaching people, touching them with your writing. Maybe you would feel successful if even a few people found and loved your work. Good books for kids help instill the love of reading for a lifetime, which leads to success in school and life.
There are books that share facts, and novels that help us figure out our own viewpoint on tough subjects. Jean Ann Williams, one of my writing buddies, is finding great success sharing her heartbreak and recovery over losing her son to suicide.
· And then there is happiness. For years (decades, actually) I wrote for various reasons: to escape; for the joy of finding just the right phrase and just the right story arc; for the thrill of meeting other writers, who are some of the finest and funnest people on earth, BTW! (Yes, I know funnest isn’t a word. But my writer friends won’t mind. They are also kind.)
When I felt ready to send my stories out into the publishing world I found the unfun part. (Yeah, yeah. Unfun is not a word either.) I became bogged down in my search for the right agent, and the right publishing house. I was angst-ridden over query letters, and depressed over rejections. I went to writing conferences for the wrong reasons. I went so that closed agents and publishing houses would accept my submissions, not to learn the craft. Of course, I listened and learned and gathered inspiration, but that wasn’t the main reason I plunked down my check and drove for hours.
I was not having fun.
At the same time my puny job turned into a real job paying a reasonable salary and requiring a great deal of time. Trying to get published was taking up more of my creative time just when I had less to give. I often said, “I spend all day doing things I don’t want to do that I actually get paid for. Why would I want to tackle more odious tasks in my spare time with (statistically speaking) scant chance of any reward?”
But now -- WOO HOO! The indy ebook explosion has helped me find my joy again. The time I have for writing is now spent on the part I like. I read more, I write more, I spend more time with my writer friends. I critique more and get critiqued more. This is what writing was supposed to be for me. It’s about creating the best book I can.
I will e-publish my novel SYNAPSE within the next few weeks or months. I may not make any money, but I hope I will reach at least a few readers. I’m working very hard to create something that will entertain and stick with people long after the light blinks out on the last page. It’s hard work toward a purpose. I don’t feel so much like I’m spinning my wheels these days. I’m actually moving forward. Slowly, but forward just the same.
Happiness! That’s how I define success. How about you?