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What Does Success Mean to You?

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

  1. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    At this point in the game, success to me is continuing to write the rest of my life. I wanted a hiatus...so I took one. It's lasted nine months. During that time I played around with a few stories and lost interest because DGAF. Truth, I was burned out from listening to all the advice about how I just HAD TO WRITE A BOOK A MONTH IN ORDER TO GET ANYWHERE and if I did anything less than that then I wasn't serious about my writing. I subscribed to that line of thinking for two years until I couldn't do it anymore and my craft--rather, my love for it--diminished.

    Recently, I've gotten back into the spirit of things. I've been doing the things I loved doing before my life was taken over by the "need to write". No one can write my stories, and I will never be as good or as sucky as other authors. Truly, who cares?! Success for me is writing. Period. I have forgotten how good it feels to bring ideas to life on paper as a cohesive story about people who are imaginary and then become real. One of my favorite things to do in the world is gaming. I stopped that because it felt like if I gamed then I was wasting precious writing time.

    Getting outside? >>>> wasting precious writing time
    Spending time with my family? >>>> wasting precious writing time

    Etc. It took me way too long to realize that this is not the way for me. I don't care about awards or USA Bestseller lists. I just want to start books and complete them. I want those books to be entertaining to my target audience, and I want work that I can be proud of. Also, I'm not reading my reviews anymore because doing that damaged my mojo a lot. So here I sit at the start of the new year ready to write my books again. Even if I complete one or two it's better than nothing. I just want to write the rest of my life. That is all.
     
  2. The Dark One

    The Dark One Auror

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    You wrote a book a month for two years?

    How on earth does anyone do that? It takes me years to write one. Mind you, I work full time and have a pretty active social life. But still, I simply can't conceive of concertina-ing my creative process into such a short interval.

    You must have an interesting brain.
     
  3. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    One thing that came to mind after thinking about this thread was that there's probably a different between "success" and "feeling successful."

    Success, is some kind of goal to strive towards, but which we probably won't ever reach because the finish line keeps moving away.
    Feeling successful is something that happens when you step back and look at what you've accomplished in a positive light and while in a good mode.
     
  4. oenanthe

    oenanthe Minstrel

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    I can't define it. I have tried, but the definition changes because whatever I pointed at and said, "that's success," it turns out I was pointing at something that was only slightly out of reach.

    maybe that's the idea. you want something, and then it happens, so you adjust your view and want the next thing.
     
  5. The Dark One

    The Dark One Auror

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    I think it kinda happens both ways.

    The big shiny success thing remains evanescent and ever elusive, but as you gain experience, the horizon also fractures and comprehends a more finely granular success.

    To refer back to ChibiMango's comment, one of the major changes I noted after getting published for the first time, was that friends and family's attitudes to my writing completely changed. Previously, they'd always been dismissive...get real, forget your stupid dreams, you've got no chance...we've all heard the like. But as soon as the industry accepted me - even in just a small way - all of a sudden, friends and family couldn't get enough of it. Where previously they'd refused even to engage with the idea of being beta readers or talk about my work in any way, all of a sudden they'd all "known I was going to make it all along" and were clamouring to read my WIP.

    Not that I truly have made it just yet (far from it) but that turn around in attitude - suddenly being taken seriously by those I've known all my life - was deeply satisfying and definitely falls within the success basket.
     
  6. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

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    To me success would be completing one book. I don't care about money, publishing, target audiences, other people or the moon being in the right position. I'd just like to actually complete something since I never have been able to.
     
    Ned Marcus likes this.
  7. FifthView

    FifthView Vala

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    I had one while shopping for groceries after work. Thought maybe it was heartburn or something. It lasted 3-4 minutes until I left the store and was sitting in my car. Over the next week it happened 2-3 more times, although not quite as bad. So I decided to see my doctor. A blood test confirmed I'd had a heart attack. (Very high troponin levels indicating I'd had a heart attack sometime within the last week or so.) The good news is that I took proactive measures, at least didn't wait for a more serious heart attack, and my heart suffered very little damage. Ended up with a stent placed in an artery and on 6 daily medicines. I hadn't actually been to see a doctor in two decades! :eek: (The expense of American healthcare...nvm.) So although not the worst kind of sudden heart attack, the experience has altered my life and outlook greatly. I'm still adjusting. Having my head in some fantasy realm hasn't been an easy option, heh. So I've not even pretended to write anything over the last few months. Success? Well at least I'm alive. :whistle:
     
    Ned Marcus likes this.
  8. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Sorry yo hear it fifth. You've much to contribute. Don't disappear.

    i seem to be permanently stuck in my current sequel book. So finishing it would feel like success. But, doing college stiff. I cant see having time for any of it till im out.
     
    FifthView likes this.
  9. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    That's a good start in my book...
     
    FifthView likes this.
  10. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    I don’t feel successful when in the middle of things, but when I step back and take a look, I see the movement forward and the successes.

     
  11. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Ye olde book a month club writing guidance, heh heh. Not that I can’t chunk out 60k or more per month, but that’s certainly not the route I’m shooting for and I’ve always thought it the fast road to writing drivel, LOL. Rapid release does make sense, because when you work hard to get people to read book one, and so many people are apt to forget you exist by the time you release book two a year later... I get it, goodness knows, but book a month certainly sounds a great way to fry one’s brain. Good to hear you iced the burnt noodle and are ready to roll again.

     
    Ned Marcus likes this.
  12. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    They won't forget. Ask me how I know. :whistle:

    I was told this at the outset, too, and I was left scratching my head as to how I could turn out another book in 30 days when it had taken me three years to write the one I was about to release. I was told in 2016 that it was career suicide to hire Big 5 talent and stick to a Big 5 production schedule of a book every 2-3 years. As some of you know, I went on to hit my debut into the lights and the sequel, two years later, did well enough that now I'm moderating panels on business models for indie/small press fantasy authors and speaking at university writing programs. (I'm moderating a panel at an upcoming con entitled "30-Day Cliff, My Ass" about exactly this.)

    A book a month works great if you're writing formulaic romance or PNR (which I guess is technically fantasy) and you've developed your own spin/niche, or if you're writing erotica with a specific kink. The problem is that, for a very long time, these were the only indie books that were making money, so it followed that this business model was the only profitable one.

    There's also a whole other thing going on here where "fantasy" is often an indie euphemism for "porn." This is why you often see a proliferation of "BBW Navy SEAL Billionaire Reverse Harem Shifter Alpha Romance" novels in Kindle "Military Fantasy" and "Fantasy Thriller" genres. I'm not bagging on porn; whatever pays the bills. But it's not fantasy, and the models aren't analogous. (Also, when hanging out with other indie authors, be sure to delineate your brand of fantasy: "I write epic fantasy / high fantasy / etc." Telling other indies you write fantasy often doesn't mean what you think it means.)

    For SF, epic/high fantasy, and even most YA, you're not going to get a fully-formed, fresh, well-researched idea out the door in 30 days. That's not how this works.
     
    Svrtnsse likes this.
  13. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Readers don't forget, per se, but there is a theoretical advantage to having book one knock it out of the park, the second ready to roll at interval X, and then the third at interval Z whether those are at 3 months, 6 months, or a year without waiting 2-3 years. I don't think there is a Big-5 model that states 2-3 years, that's just how long it often took for mammoth epics to get written and released. Sanderson can kick out big assed novels in a year. I can kick out 250-300k in a year not even doing this full time (but this might be near max before I'd burn out, I'd need the breaks anyhow), there just isn't a reason for me to not put out a large novel every year until I branch into doing multiple series or pull a GRRM with HBO series, heh heh. The Lord of the Rings movies are something of a large scale example of this timeframe... Yes, it lowered production costs, but it also kept momentum high. Harry Potter followed this model well, even if I couldn't stand the wand waving dork. But, I doubt there's a publisher out there who doesn't want a faster release schedule, for multiple reasons.

    And there is another blunt point to be made... many of those making money in the rapid fire marketing style aren't making money because they're great writers, the books are going to be formulaic and forgettable in a large % of cases, once you have readers in those high churn genres you don't want to give them a reason to jump ship.

    Slow can work, no doubt, but there's no advantage to it.

    I was never told the book a month thing, I just read it somewhere along the line and said "ppffft." But I'm lining up straight at the Epic Fantasy crowd, I'm not "niching down" to some market beyond that. I'm not following the find 2000 faithful readers and sell them a book every month model, but hell, if that works, it works, heh heh.

    That said, there are writers writing pulp in genres where that crap works and works damned well... lawyer thrillers written by ex-lawyers comes to mind... high dialogue content, simplistic writing, and wham-bam-thank-you-reader and see you in three weeks with the next release can make stupid amounts of money (in theory) and God knows I've spoken to a couple romance writers who are doing just that.

     
    Malik likes this.
  14. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    No, I didn't write a book a month. That's what a good percentage of advice geared towards new Indie publishers happened to be at the time. Malik spoke to the reasons why...(genre, etc). I did publish several novellas within a short span of time but I've also been writing for many years and had lined some things up in order to expedite my work into the market. And yes, I do work full time but that doesn't have much to do with it, imo, because a lot of the authors I've met through Facebook groups etc also have full time jobs. All writers work at their own pace.
     
  15. The Dark One

    The Dark One Auror

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    Not always. How often do you read a first book (in any genre) which is very good, and then the sequel and/or subsequent books are terrible?

    If a debut novel has been slowly crafted over (maybe) 15 years, and then the subsequent contractual obligation efforts are each done within a year, it will totally change the creative dynamic. And maybe some people only have one book in them...
     
  16. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    I don't agree with that logic. Every writer is different. It took me three months to write my "debut" novel, which wasn't the first one I'd ever written. Sure, Indie and Trad routes are separate journeys but not every writer works at the same pace, regardless of parameters.

    But this thread isn't for that sort of discussion so I apologize for throwing it off course. Bringing it back to the OP...success is what it means to you specifically. It's as individual as we are.
     
  17. LadyErynn

    LadyErynn Dreamer

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    For me, success has always meant money. I'm trying to change my thinking since becoming a full-time writer/mother, but it's difficult.
     
  18. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Sage

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    I always smile when I hear this. I was the same. I think every writer has some variant of this dream when they publish their first novel. The reality (as almost every writer who has done this knows) is very different.

    Someone averaging about $40 a year might see it as success.


    For me success is completing stories to the best of my ability and having people around the world reading them. People telling me how much they enjoy the stories helps me keep going.

    Financial success is earning enough money to live without the need to do any other job. Ultimate (financial) success would be to earn enough money to go anywhere, do anything, at any time I want.
     
  19. The Dark One

    The Dark One Auror

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    It wasn't really logic, more an observation.

    Three months still seems incredibly fast to me, but if people can do that I'm both impressed and terrified.
     
  20. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    One of the many reasons why I dislike that word is because there's an implication that success is a thing and you know it when you achieve it and then you have it as a kind of permanent possession. But that's not how life works, not even for the "successful."

    To me, success isn't very interesting because it's an end. The seeking, the striving, the not yielding, that's interesting. Want to make lots of money? That's fine; go for it. Just don't call it success. Want to sell lots of books and have engaged readers? Great! Just don't call it success. Because when you've achieved success, you stop. Because you're there. You get off the train. I want to sell books. When I sell books, I'll want to sell more books. There's not a finish line there. I want engaged readers. When I have some, I'll want more. And I'll want them to be even happier, even more engaged. There's not a finish line there, either. A finish line would ruin it.

    Besides, success is too easy. As the old saying runs (and I'm sure I've quote this bit of wisdom before):
    To be sure of hitting the target, just shoot.
    Whatever you hit, call that the target.
     
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