Tuesday, August 31, 2021

IWSG - September

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group!

The awesome co-hosts for the September 1 posting of the IWSG are Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman, Natalie Aguirre, Karen Lynn, and C. Lee McKenzie!

This month's question is a good one:

 How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

I feel like success changes as you move through your writing journey.  I still remember the sense of achievement I felt when my first short story was accepted for publication.  I felt like a success.  But somehow, after having 20+ short stories published, the sense of that being a measure of success wained somewhat.

Finishing my first novel felt like a success.  And to be honest, that's one that never gets old.  Even after having written fourteen or fifteen novels, typing THE END still makes me feel successful.  

My first request for a full manuscript from an agent felt like a success, as did signing with my first agent and publishing my first novel. Holding that first novel in my hand.  Seeing it on the shelves at my local library. Getting good reviews.  All these things are milestones in my journey as a writer and each time I pass one of these, I feel like a success.

Unfortunately, that sense of success fades when you realize there's always another milestone to reach.

And it's not always a straightforward, linear path that we follow as writers.  Often we slip back a few steps and have reach the same milestone again.  My first publisher went out of business, orphaning my book.  My agent left the business, leaving me back in the query trenches which seem to have changed significantly since the last time I ventured in.

From a purely financial standpoint, no one would call me a success.  I've been writing 'professionally' for over ten years now, and even with four novels and umpteen stories published and fantastic reviews almost across the board, my total earnings are pitiful.  I don't feel like I'll even be able to give up my day job to write full time.

Yet I don't feel unsuccessful.  I achieved something I have dreamed of since I was about twelve and first decided that writing was something I wanted to do.  So even if I never reach the level of popularity and wealth I once dreamed of, never get another agent, never sell that book I believe is the best I've ever written, I still see myself as a success.

How do you define success as a writer?


  1. Writing and publishing are definitely NOT straightforward paths. There's so much back and forth that it's great when we can find those successful moments along the way.

  2. Why do we writers do this to ourselves? Telling stories is one of the ultimate connnections we can make with other human beings. Kudos to you for putting so much of your best creative self out into the world for others to enjoy. Thank you!