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What is Success?

This week, Writer’s Digest had an interesting article that asks “How do you as an author define success?” I have found this question plaguing me as I go through my 20’s. I don’t have a husband and kids. I have the degrees that some circles define as success, but still struggle to make ends meet. I also find different circles in society disagree on what defines success. So it comes down to my definition, but it’s tough to answer. Yet, over the yeas, my viewpoint of success has always gone back to my writing. Am I writing consistently? Am I attending conferences and book signings? Am I active in my pursuit of the dream?

I always talk of the dream of writing, but I think it is a good idea to know what that dream entails. Is it a publisher? Is it a few book signings in a year? Is it simply writing stories? When I was little, when people would ask, I proclaimed I wanted to be a New York Times Bestseller. This response always elicited the same response, a slight giggle and endearing look. When I really started listening, I figured out just how limited this dream is. Something to long for? Sure. Something to rest the definition of success on? Maybe that’s too unrealistic. Okay. What about a big NY publishing house? Not as selective, but some horror stories start to suggest maybe taking the time to achieve this would not necessarily guarantee “success.”

Bottom line, I want to bea writer. I want to file my taxes and put that as my profession. I want to sit on a plane and that be my answer when the person next to me asks what I do for a living. I don’t want to maintain two categories: the writing life and the work life. Therefore, my definition of success is being able to sustain myself on my novels. I have met many who proclaim that even this dream is farfetched. There are a lot of books out there. There are a lot of authors out there. And, more importantly, there are a whole lot of aspiring writers out there. The odds are not promising. But I know my drive. I could have thousand followers on Twitter and sell books in my home town but still feel something missing. It’s not that these things wouldn’t mean anything to me. I love the followers I currently have. They keep me pushing. But “success” by my definition is to make writing more than a hobby done in spare time. I want it to be my only job. Then, I will feel successful….

However, all who know me are probably calling me a liar. Because, when this goal is achieved, I will strive for something more. It is my nature to never be satisfied with my current achievements. I’m hoping that is the key in my pursuit of a dream I’ve had since I was twelve.


  1. dfccc1c0-100a-11e2-b00b-000bcdcb2996

    One step at a time is probably the best way to achieve most dreams. I had the same dream as you–being a full-time, self-sustaining writer–and achieved it for several years. But it’s hard to keep that going even once you’ve made it there. There are too many things that are beyond your control, it turns out. So I’m doing the day job thing, too.

    I hope to get back to full-time one of these days. Looking forward to you joining me in that status, too!

  2. BJ Kurtz

    I think the scariest and yet most exciting part of the industry is how things change. My definition might change later, but I guess that’s why, ultimately, we just do it because we love to write. 🙂 Thank you for sharing.

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