Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Definition of Success

Let's start with the literal.  According to Merriam-Webster "success" is:

  • the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame
  • the correct or desired result of an attempt
  • someone or something that is successful : a person or thing that succeeds
I often wonder about success when it comes to my writing.  At what point am I supposed to consider myself a successful writer?  According to definition option number one I still have a ways to go having none of those three listed things.

But according to definition option number two I may stand a chance.  "The correct or desired result of an attempt" kind of gives me a lot of leeway, doesn't it?  

I suppose I would have to be able to define what it was that I set out to do.  In this way, my teaching the violin is much easier to define.  I wanted to be a successful teacher.  A full studio of students that are able to play said instrument makes my personal validation easy.  But writing...?

To be honest, I'm not sure what I set out to do.  I suppose I started out because I wanted to make some money off of the stories rattling around in my head and hard drive.  Boy was I kidding myself.  If someone had told me from the start how much money it took to be SELF-published I'm not sure I ever would have started.

But I did.  And I'm hooked so too late now!

So to answer my original question: I suppose I am a successful writer by my own small standard (emphasis on small).  I set out to make money and I am.  Not very much but it's better than the $0 I was making before I started out.

I have to keep reminding myself of these small successes because, frankly, a writer's career path is a slog.  There are no promotions and certainly no bonus seasons.  You start paying a few bills with your royalty money and then read an interview by JK Rowling who has literally made billions.  How can I say that I'm successful compared to her?

But I can be successful without billions (though billions would be nice).  I'm accomplishing the goals I'm setting out to do and anything anyone else does is beside the point.    

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