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What Does Success Mean to You?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by The Dark One, Jan 8, 2020.

  1. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    This could feasibly go under a different category, but I include success at the craft as well as any other form of success...so fair enough.

    I'm guessing that most of us go into writing seriously with the goal of making a living from it. Certainly I did, back in 1992. I'd been a dabbler all my life and had always vaguely known that I would one day be a writer, but 1992 was the year I determined to give it my best shot.

    When I finished my first novel, in about 1997, I remember lying in bed having visions of publishers driving dump trucks full of money up to my house - and gazing out the windows of a Manhattan skyscraper after signing away film rights. That was my concept of success.

    None of it happened (yet) but when I look back to the years of most intense frustration - say 2000 to 2006 - if I'd known in those days that I would have four books published in the mainstream, two of them in the airports, one of them optioned by a major studio, and heaps of emails and the like from total strangers telling me how much they loved my work... I reckon I would have been delighted.

    In Australia, about 4% of writers (as reported to the tax department) make $70k per year, which is a tick above the average wage here. That's a hell of a lot of other writers (like me) who have to supplement their writing hobby with a full time job.

    But turning just to the craft question, I can look back over the last 27 years and easily perceive the improvement I've made. I've come a really long way as a writer, if only because I can't read two sentences from that first book from 1997 without vomiting blood.

    So...I'd average about $4k per year from book sales...which no-one could call success. And yet I regard myself as very successful.

    Discuss.
     
    kennyc, Nighty_Knight, Devor and 2 others like this.
  2. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    From my vantage, you look like a success story.

    Being able to write about your experience without vomiting blood, heh—that is, somehow with both serene acceptance and not a little pride—signals success to my eyes, ears, and heart.

    Mind you, my reaction might be common for those standing out in the freezing rain with no shoes and no coat who have found your window and forget, if only for a few moments, the biting chill while watching you fix yourself a cup of warm cocoa before you return to your sofa in front of the fireplace.

    :whistle:
     
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  3. Yora

    Yora Maester

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    I imagine that it feels like success when you see people recommending your work in the wild.
     
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  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I posted a chapter of fanfiction last night - which I do because it helps with writing anxiety on my main project - and this morning I woke up to the following comment:

    To me this feels like success. I gave someone all that emotion I was shooting for and they were kind enough to say so. And I'm elated.
     
  5. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

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    I got low expectations.
    “Success” just means finishing one project and being able to start on another.
    When you can’t move onto the next thing: that’s failure.
     
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  6. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    Last year at an autograph session I signed a fan's boob.
     
  7. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Quitting my day job...but signing boobs is a good indicator as well.
     
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  8. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Signign someone’s boob might be the end of my career... and my life, heh heh.

    Now, a relative of a friend is a big-time graphic novelist who was at a Con and had a woman show him a body length tattoo of (I think) one of his characters... something like that, I forget the exact story. When that happens to me, I’ll consider myself a very, very, very weird sort of success. heh heh.

    Of course, that’s nothing compared to his real successes, but for me? That’ll work.
     
    Malik likes this.
  9. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Deeper answer... I consider things successful, but success is a ladder. Eve of Snows earned fans from around the world, won the first contest I entered it in, got an editor’s pick review from Booklife (Publishers Weekly), got a featured deal on Bookbub, hit #1 Epic in 4 countries including the US because of the Bookbub, made it into the local paper, and I’ve a relative just stumble into someone out in the “Wild” who was reading the book. Hmmm, made some money and put it all back into it... LOL

    There are more rungs to grasp and climb, but for a debut novel and the first I ever bothered to finish, I call it success even if it isn’t earning a living. Yet.
     
  10. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    What a charming rebuke!

    I'll have you know the cocoa is a cheap generic brand, the cup is chipped and the only reason it looks warm is because my breath is steaming in the cold...despite the fire you can see, which in fact is burning down my house!
     
  11. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I quit my day job about a year ago to write full time. I realised pretty soon it wouldn't work out, and now I've got another day job.

    I published my first book two years ago, and the greatest feeling of success I've experienced since then is when someone picks up the second (or third, or fourth, etc.) book in my series. That tells me they enjoyed the previous book enough that they want to read the next one, which kind of has to mean I've done something right.
     
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  12. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I've already succeeded. So, now what?

    Sorry. Old hippie here. I'm deeply skeptical of goals and that thing my parents called Success.

    I wanted to write a book, get it published. Did that. Wanted to write more. Still doing that. Figure I'll keep doing that until they nail my ... oh, wait, that one's already used. Anyway, I just plan to keep on keepin' on.
     
  13. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    That sounds suspiciously successful.
     
  14. I find that as I grow older (37 now...) my thoughts about what counts as success have changed. Like Demesnedenoir I've found that for me success is a ladder where there's lots of different steps that count as success. And that getting to the top of the ladder (whatever that might be) isn't necessary to be happy or even desirable.

    As a university student first attempting to write, my visions were also of writing the bestseller, with the film rights, million dollar advances and so on. That was what success looked like. And of course, I still wouldn't mind getting to that level of success. But I think there's a lot between where I stand now and that which I would also count as success.

    My current long term goal would be to make enough from writing to be able to quit my day job. That's a (very) long term goal and something I would count as success. But there's a lot of different steps to there which I definitely would count as a success:
    - just getting a book published
    - And then getting someone (other then friends or family) buying said book
    - Someone buying a second book
    - Selling enough of a book to make back the cost of creating it
    - Getting an enthusiastic reaction from someone who read my book
    - ...

    I can continue that list for a while. But there's a lot of little steps that I would consider a success. And I would be perfectly happy to stop at any of those steps. I think the main feeling (and common denominator) is that I enjoy creating stories. And stories are meant to be read. So it counts as success if someone reads and enjoys those stories I create. And the more people read them the better. It's one of the reasons I put up my short stories on my blog. I have no other place where I can get people to read them. And a story locked away on a hard drive, unable to be read is just a sad story.
     
  15. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    I remember an interview with a musician where they were asked what it was like to get a gold record [or a million sales or something] for their album... Their reply was that it just showed them how many people had NOT bought it...
     
  16. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    The funny thing with successful musicians/singers, in particular teen sensations, since their music goes out on the radio and some % of people are forced to listen to it... there are more people totally indifferent to your music or who downright hate it than who have purchased it, heh heh.

     
  17. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Inkling

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    As a sometime musician, my measure of success tends to be the applause of tonight's audience.
     
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  18. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    I don't consider myself successful at all. Hardly an aspect of my life is excluded from this assessment—certainly, it describes my writing as well. Of which there is none; I don't. I stopped writing some months ago. I hadn't been writing much for months anyway. Then I had a heart attack (or three), that was comparatively minor, but much of my mental focus switched to this new area of life. Health. Finances.

    But all that said, I'd guess that "success" merely means being happy with your condition. Whatever your condition.
     
  19. I'd consider success for myself would be to get at least a small fanbase. My personal definition of a fanbase would be a group of people who like your work and don't have any reason to automatically like it (ex. they aren't a family member, your romantic partner, or someone else who's biased towards you.) I'd want to continue to get more out of my work, of course, but I'd be pretty happy if I had an active fanbase of around 100 people.
     
  20. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Three heart attacks? That's pretty rough Fifth. No more of those.
     
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