Defining “Success”

I subscribe to the awesome blog-for-writers, Query Tracker. I love Query Tracker. Incredibly valuable information flows through it every day.

Reading this morning’s Query Tracker post shook me to my core. I may have been expecting another “trite” article about how success is recognizing what you’ve already accomplished, but this is Query Tracker. They don’t do trite.

Most of the people in my life know that “I write.” Those who do not know me well always want to know when my book will be out and what bookstore they can find it in, and am I excited about it? And most are surprised when I shrug. For years I thought there was something wrong with me because I have never defined my “success” as a writer by whether or not I ever publish a romance (or any other kind of) novel.

Don’t get me wrong. I hope I do. I plan to. In fact, I have a plan for that in place right now. Actually, I have two: Plan A and Plan B. If Plan A doesn’t work. Plan B will, without fail, work just fine.

But if Plan A doesn’t work and I have to resort to Plan B, will I consider myself a failure? Nope. Not even. Because I don’t hang my hat on that one project. When my first novel is published, I won’t even consider it to be a “fulfillment of a lifelong dream” or a sign that I am a success as a writer. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I’m already there.

Back in 1985, I sharpened my package of brand-new Dixon Ticonderogas and peeled the wrapping off my first stack of notepads bought just for writing. When I started to write my first piece, I never had any idea that I could earn any significant amount of money from my writing. But I did. Very significant amounts. And not only that, my articles have been reprinted many times. (Now, THAT is a rush.) I couldn’t be more pleased with my success as a writer and as an author, and the jobs I’ve held in the printing and publishing industries (literally all my life) have made me obscenely happy and prepared me well for the major publishing project I have in the works now.

So this article really hit me hard, and put it all in perspective for me, and I hope it does for you as well. How successful are you as a writer? Are you living the life you want? Do you get to tap away at a keyboard, make up things, listen to the voices in your head?

Do you smile when you mentally imagine re-writing an actual scene unfolding in front of you, grin evilly when someone says something that is SO going in your book, feel your heart bouncing around in your chest when someone reads something you’ve written, get a little lightheaded when you catch a whiff of “eau de book” in the air, mentally edit everything you read?

And best of all, have you ever gotten a goofy grin on your face when you saw your name under the word “by”? If not, you will. Stay focused on the successes you’ve had, and more success will come.

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4 Responses
  1. Great blog post, Kellie. Some really good advice to think about.

  2. Skyewriter says:

    Excellent post – just got one question – “when is your book coming out?” Seriously, though, the “life” of an author is the best part. People-watching for visual clips of your characters, listening to conversations for dialog ideas, plots that unfold in your head 24/7 and characters that end up as real to you as the people who live next door. It’s definitely a different sort of life, but one I love. Thanks for sharing that.

  3. As always, you’ve written an iniformative and helpful post. Now on to subscribe to Query Tracker!

  4. Great blog, Kellie. And you are right, the article does hit you hard. It also puts things back into perspective. Thanks for sharing it.

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