On Success

Dictionary.com has the following to say about the word “success”:

suc·cess [suhk-ses]

  1. the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one’s goals.
  2. the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.
  3. a performance or achievement that is marked by success, as by the attainment of honors: The play was an instant success.
  4. a person or thing that has had success, as measured by attainment of goals, wealth, etc.: She was a great success on the talk show.
  5. Obsolete , outcome.

As writers, we have many goals and desires for our writing. Perhaps a goal is to write and publish a novel.  Perhaps it is to write a popular web serial.  Maybe it is to make a career out of writing for television or radio.  Success in these cases may be measured by whether or not a novel, or serial or radio script is completed or in-progress.

For some writers — and by “some writers”, I actually mean “me” — there are times where “success” is as simple as getting a few words onto the page at all.

By any measure, I have had many successes as a writer. I’ve had short stories and poems published. I’ve had several scripts produced. I’ve written a lot of stories, poems and other things which perhaps may never see the light of day outside of my own home, yet they are successes because they are written.  But my biggest success is probably seeing my children’s smiles as they read a story I wrote or laughed at a joke in a script I wrote.

As much as I’d like to envision a future where I can make a living by writing fiction, the reality is that writing computer software is what will continue to pay my bills for a long time to come.  So success for me will continue to be defined by completed stories or manuscripts, perhaps an occasional publication and absolutely by the smiles of my friends and family when they read a piece.

How about you? How do you define success with regard to your writing and where do you want to see it go in the future?

4 thoughts on “On Success

  1. At this point, I define success as finishing a manuscript. Actually completing one instead of getting 4-5 chapters in and trashing it. In the future, I may change that definition to include publishing a book. But right now, baby steps. 🙂

  2. I’ve given up on any traditional definition of success–published, finished a mss, Now it’s little things like “Word doesn’t corrupt my document” or “I like a particular scene two days in a row without editing it AGAIN”.

    Yeah, simple stuff.

  3. I know exactly what I want to achieve to feel that I have been a success – I want my books traditionally published.
    But I can also mark as success that many of the students I’ve taught have moved into their adult lives with measurable success in fields that they attribute to my teaching. And the teenagers who find me in the hall and tell me – out of earshot of their peers – that they really learned a lot from me and I made a difference.
    So, maybe I must measure differently.
    Nah – I want to be published!

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