Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What Defines Success as an Author?

"That's what you have to do to be successful." Someone told a friend of mine the other day.

I'm not sure whether to laugh or to cry at the insanity of the situation.


If you asked me three years ago what makes a successful author I would've said it depended on how many books you sold, or your notoriety. Anything less than J. K. Rowling status was not success.

Unfortunately, a big part of me still wants to believe that. Like dollar signs are all that matter at the end of the day.

Why? Why must I let myself do that? Why is it that the view from space tells me the only thing that's important are the numbers?

Then again, I didn't name this blog A Writer's Journey for nothing. It was the idea of the journey that pushed me to start blogging. It's the journey that's pulled at my heartstrings and brought me low and lifted me back up again.

It wasn't money that change my life, it was the journey. It is the journey.

I don't know how I'm going to feel if and when I ever get a paycheck, but right now I'm thinking it's going to feel a lot like working out at the gym to lose weight, then someone paying me on top of it. Even if I wasn't getting paid I would still workout because it benefits me.

Guess what I realized today after someone else told me the formula to success? I'm already successful.

Crazy, because this whole time I've been going about thinking endless five star reviews and ten thousand copies meant success. But I had to ask myself, if those things never happened to me, would I consider myself a failure? No. I've already grown so much as person. That's not failing.

Plus, I've learned something else that's insane about this journey, I've learned that I'm not a quitter.

Until about two years ago, I really thought I was a quitter. I never finished anything I started. Then I found writing. I found passion in life. It hit me one day that there was no end, that even being published wasn't the end. That no matter what, I was going to continue on this journey until I die.

There's my answer. It might not be the answer to people outside looking in. They might see that I have yet to make a sale, and they might judge that. I have to push those critics out of my head and focus on why I started writing in the first place. That won't be the end of the judgement either because I'm certain I'm going to continue to push those critics out of my head even if they're the people who hand me a paycheck.

What defines success for me? Courage, strength, and the ability to push forward and keep learning. If I accomplish that, then my life won't be wasted, no matter how much money I've made.


22 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

There is no end - that is a very true statement!
The journey matters more. It really does.
And despite the fact my books have done really well, the friends I've made here and the IWSG are still my greatest successes.

Louise Bates said...

*Cheering*

I agree - the first book I ever finished, revised, and finished again was the biggest success of my life. Even though that book will never be published (because it was dreadful), it proved that I COULD finish something when I put my mind to it.

Ava Jae said...

Wonderful post! I think you're absolutely right that success isn't about a monetary value or how many books you've sold. Success is defined differently from person to person, and I'm glad to hear you've found yours. :)

S.P. Bowers said...

Love this. Our lives, and writing, are a journey without end. Success is more a state of mind than a destination.

Rena said...

Love this! Writing is such a hard task all on it's own. Sometimes I want those things that others thing are whats necessary, but if that's all I wanted, I would never go back to be certain it was the absolute best it could be.

ilima said...

Great post. I think setting goals that I can control and meeting them makes me feel like a success. Also, when my daughter reads my book and wants to make t-shirts with the love interests name on them...I consider that a success, haha. :)

Scribbles From Jenn said...

This is the post I needed to read today as I trudge through revision, after revision, after revision. I will define my own success and not let others define ti for me. I will look forward and enjoy the journey instead of counting the years behind me!

J E Oneil said...

Nope, you're not a failure if you keep trying. :) I love this post.

Julie Luek said...

I think one of the biggest benefits of being tied into the writing community is you learn that success is doing what you love, seeing it produced, and knowing that readers enjoy your writing. Sales, money, fame-- icing but not the substance. Good post and reminder for all of us.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

It's great that the journey has broadened your perception of success. At the start of my blog I was most interested in getting published the traditional route, now I've put off seeking an agent or publisher until 2015 and focusing on self-publishing. Wild!

Melanie Fowler said...

I often think that writers are never quitters! Beth Revis is a great example of someone who pushed on!

I think success as an author for me will be to see my book in print. I may not sell tons, but I when I hold that book in my hand I will just say...I did it!

You're awesome Jennie!

Mark Noce said...

Let me answer by rephrasing your question...what do you consider a successful life? I find that it's very much the same question:)

Crystal Collier said...

It's so true! Every experience lends to our growth, and while insane success would be awesome in some ways, it would be totally tragic in others. Here's to enjoying the road one step at a time, eh?

John Wiswell said...

These are important questions to review because, if unchecked, you'll never be satisfied. It's also good to remember that most bestselling authors don't earn a supportable living. If one can be practical, one is likely to be happier.

M.L. Swift said...

Paycheck? What's that? Great post, Jennie, and so true. I felt the same about writing success (and I still keep that feeling/dream alive). Money, books, fame...lol. But it would be nice.

M.L. Swift, Writer

Donna K. Weaver said...

I love this post, Jennie! Go you! Think about it. You've finished more than one book. Even writing one book is more than millions of people will ever do. Or want to do.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I hope to keep having fun with it all. The journey is definitely the best part. But does that mean I don't [semi] secretly hope to land one of the big publishers some day? Will it break me if I don't? Nah. Doesn't mean I don't think about it. But no matter what, I could never stop writing, even if it was always just for me.

Shannon at The Warrior Muse

Michelle D. Argyle said...

You've just discovered the real key to happiness in a writing career. The trick, I've found, is to remind yourself of it every single day. I have it above my computer -- "You're successful because you don't quit and you're doing what you love. Period."

Sarah said...

I thought I'd already left a comment on this, but apparently I haven't yet, even though I read this a while ago. This is a great post.

I think I too will write until I die, whether I ever get published or not. Success for me in this writing thing will be continuing to learn and improve, and if the things I write are loved by one other person besides me, that would be okay too.

Jay Noel said...

Great post, and one that resonates with many of us.

I started this whole thing with the same idea. Success was books sold and $. I quit once too, and that hiatus lasted a good 10 years!

But now, being on this road has changed my perspective quite a bit. I'm with you...I'm going to do this until I die!

Anonymous said...

If I knew the answer, I'd be published.

Sorry...having one of those days.

michelle said...

The most important thing IS the journey... which never ends... which was the inspiration for my blog title...
The destination is simply a bonus!
Writer In Transit