Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How Do You Define Success?

I've been considering how I define success as a writer. I'm not a NYT bestselling author. In fact, very few people even know my name or that I've written any books. I haven't won any awards. I'm not an in-demand speaker for writing conferences. No one asks me for an autograph when I'm at the mall or grocery store. So, compared to JK Rowling or Suzanne Collins or Rachel Ann Nunes or Anita Stansfield, I look like a complete failure as an author.

Am I? I guess that depends on my definition of success. For me, I feel successful when a reader takes the time to write me a note and let me know how much he or she enjoyed my book. I feel successful when I see my book in print and can hold it in my hands. I feel successful when my kids brag about me being an author. I feel successful when I finish a manuscript and turn it in. I even feel successful when I finish a particularly hard scene or finally understand a writing concept.

I write because I love to write. I love to create characters. I love to hear their conversations and then write them down. I love to get to know them. I love to create worlds and situations and see how it all works out. I love to play with words and string them together in different ways. I want to share the stories that play in my head and maybe, just maybe, touch someone in the process. I guess I just love to write for the sake of writing and I've been very blessed to be able to publish some of my stories. Sure, I'd love to have huge sales because that'd mean more people are reading my story, but if I based my definition of success merely on how many sales I've had or where my book sits on a sales list, I'd have quit a long time ago. As long as I can continue to publish my stories, I'm very content and I feel successful.

Maybe my definition is different from others. What's yours?


Steve Westover said...

Well said Rebecca.

My kids NEVER brag about me being a banker, but they love to tell everyone about the books I've written or working on. (They don't mention how few people have actually read them :>)

My daughter even wrote an essay about how she wants to be an author when she grows up, just like dad. Yeah--that's success.

Angie said...

I think you are definitely successful. I struggle with the same issue all the time. I haven't published a novel. I've published lots of short stories. Am I a failure? I think to think that I'm not, and I'll keep writing anyway!

Angela Felsted said...

If you're completing your projects and putting your heart into it, then I say you are a success.