A Writer’s Dream

Every person wants different things; every person’s definition of success is different. There are individual successes, like when you ace a test in school, and there are overall successes, like when you get your high school diploma. As writers, we share many of the same individual successes-finishing a book, finishing an edit, submitting your book, getting published. These successes are shared by writers of all genres. Overall success, however, changes from writer to writer.

Individual successes in the fiction writing business are universal: the first finished book, the first successful rewrite, the first agent, the first contract, the first book sale. The first royalty check. Success in writing cannot be determined by the amount of money you make, or you’re sure to get discouraged-it takes time for even the best writers, even the promotional geniuses, to make any real money in this game. And so we measure and think of success in different ways-each new challenge we overcome as a writer is a success.

But what does overall success look like? Well that’s different for everyone. For me it looks like a small house in my ancestral land-the highlands of Scotland. It doesn’t involve any kind of corporate job; it involves gardening, cleaning, hiking, and writing. It involves at least one cat and preferably a husband of some kind-not a ceremonial wedding but a man who will stick with me through the thick and thin of my writing career-possibly a househusband if I ever make enough money for that kind of thing.

Most of all, when I’m older and looking back on my life, I’ll know I’ve reached success if I have a long line of published books which people really enjoyed. I’ll know I’ve reached success when my non-writing time is filled with talking to readers and other writers about books. I’ll know I’ve reached success when I go to a writing conference and some kid I’ve never seen or heard of before tells me that they read one of my books and were inspired not only to read more-but also to write. It is easy to blog and to give prompts to those who already write; it is harder to reach out to a young mind and make them think hey, maybe they could write a book too.

In the end I want to give back to young people. Writing has saved my life and I want to give that gift to other young people going through hard times.

What does your vision of overall success look like?

4 thoughts on “A Writer’s Dream

  • Our dream of success sounds so very similar. I define it not by the amount of hustle and bustle in my life but the lack of it. Give me quiet, creativity and a little love, and I’m a happy camper : ).

    • Hi Hawley, glad to see you’ve landed here.

      I think most writers aren’t the most social of people. In my Nanowrimo community-some of them write all year and others don’t, but most have another creative pursuit in the off season-I know I’m one of the more outgoing people, that I have more non-Nano friends than several of them do-though you wouldn’t tell by showing up to an actual event. Right now I go out a lot, I’m all over the place, I like to party, I like to dance, and I like to talk to people. But I don’t want it to be like that for the rest of my life; even now I’ve begun cutting people entirely out of my life.

      Mainly, I like living in the big city right now, as a teenager-there’s always something to do and someone to talk to-but when I’m older, I want to live in a small town.

  • Greetings!

    Interesting topic … “defining success”. For me, success is my effective, efficienct and most importanly – innovative – use of writing in my job. Nano and SFrenzy (and writing regularly in the “off seasons”) has meant that I can write well, quickly and be fairly decent at it.

    From the Nano/SF crowd, I have learned all KINDS of creative things, social networking sites and otherwise seen how to live a colourful, interesting life and how that can be easily brought to the surface.

    I have officially launched my work blog. It took me 18 months of lobbying Them That Do Not Understand blogging, twitter, facebook etc to say yes. I had to run it for 2 months in a highly secure test environment while the animals got used to the idea. One of the most hilarious pieces of feedback was … “yes, but you are going to have to write. REGULARLY!” … snork. 🙂 Stand back, I’ll make it rain and give you 150K in 30 days. (my blog posts have a word range of 250-300 … my problem is always an edit DOWN, not up and I am never short of ideas).

    None of this would have been possible without my writing friends or my creative life. So I would say that I am currently successful at writing. Getting something published would also be nice but it’s not a driving force for me at the moment. If my life circumstances changed, and I had that rare commodity of time, I suspect that I would focus much more on writing fiction (and perhaps a stab at non-fiction).

    In the meantime, my huge success is that I continue the pursuit.

    : )


  • RP,

    Writing for fun-and increasing your creative output in all areas of life-is certainly an important thing for many people who have no desire to turn it into a career. Creativity allows us to grow and to enjoy life in ways people who stifle their creativity can’t. It’s about thinking out of the box.

    That sounds like quite the struggle, and I’m glad that you managed to get the work animals to agree to try something new. I also have the issue of editing down a lot of times. I hope someday I’ll be able to write good enough flash fiction to get it published in paying markets, but right now my stories are larger than that and I have to work with what I have.

    So far I think I’m successful at writing too-because I’ve never given up, because I always return to my dream even if I get distracted for a few days or even a couple of weeks, and because I know that if I keep working at it eventually I will reach my version of overall successes.

    Congratulations on living the creative life,

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