What is writing ‘success’?

I was discussing the definition of ‘writing success’ with my best friend, Jodie, the other day and we found it to be an interesting topic. Even just the term ‘success’ is subjective – what I consider success to be isn’t necessarily what you consider it to be. And especially when it comes to writing – there are just so many possibilities! Here are just a few of them:

  • You’re ‘successful’ when you’ve completed a manuscript and typed those beautiful final words: ‘The End’…
  • You’re ‘successful’ when your critique partners get back to you and wax poetic about how wonderful your story is…
  • You’re ‘successful’ when your concept is so unique that your query letter gains a heap of attention – especially by your ‘favourite’ literary agents…
  • You’re ‘successful’ when you’re offered representation by an agent – because that means someone believes in you as an author…
  • You’re ‘successful’ when you get an offer of publishing…
  • You’re ‘successful’ when your book is printed and people are actually buying it (to your shock and amazement)…
  • You’re ‘successful’ when the international rights to your book are sold and it becomes available overseas…
  • You’re ‘successful’ when you make it onto the New York Times bestsellers list…
  • You’re ‘successful’ when a movie scout comes along wanting to turn your vision into a film…
  • You’re ‘successful’ when you’re walking along a street and some random person asks you for an autograph…
  • You’re ‘successful’ when…

I mean, I could continue forever. Even little things like, ‘You’re ‘successful’ when someone writes a fan fiction story based on your novel’ could go on this list. It’s an unending list because there will always be new levels, new goals, new opportunities to strive for further ‘success’. 

So, what is success? And really, does it matter all that much? I don’t write because I want to be ‘successful’ (whatever it means), I write because I just love to write – and anything beyond that is just a bonus. But if you want to know my own personal definition of success – at least for this moment in my life – then it’s this: I just want to hold my book in my hands. That to me is success. It’s evidence of a job well done, and it says that someone else believes in me and my writing enough to want to publish it and get it out to the world.

I’m just super-excited that I’m already on the journey towards that happening! I’ll hopefully be able to update more on the publishing journey later this week – and maybe soon after that I’ll be on a plane to meet my to-be-publishers in person. Yay!

And, hey, if you’re interested in writing or anything related to it, check out Jodie’s blog because she has some fantastically motivational posts: http://jodiellewellyn.wordpress.com/

13 thoughts on “What is writing ‘success’?

  1. I agree that our definition of “success” seems to evolve with how much of it we’ve already attained! It’s the name of the game to always want to be reaching new heights. My hope in my own life and writing is that the heights I strive for will always be meaningful ones, related to doing excellent work and touching people through it, rather than simply getting empty praise. If I’m genuinely proud of what I’m doing, then I think I’m successful. Best of luck to you!

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