Success in Writing

SATURDAY, 30 MARCH 2013

What is success and how do we measure it?This question is a tricky one, because success can mean different things to different people.  It all starts with the question: who and what do you write for?

When I first began writing I was writing purely for myself.  I remember telling people, usually whilst I was inebriated, that I was going to write a novel one day; that was what I wanted to do, damn it.  At that time I was flirting with short stories and scenes, writing different scenarios, and I think I even started on a novel (some weird tale of a journalist caught up in a supernatural murder mystery – whoops).  But that was what I was focussed on.  That was where I wanted my writing to be, in a concise package that people called a novel.

Then about two years later it had happened.  I had written a novel.  Slowly – word by word, then paragraph by paragraph, then chapter by chapter – it was there; I had built it, built my dream.  Finished.  My great gathering of ideas.

So that was my first real success; and it was a big turning point, probably my biggest success to date because that accomplishment now raised my level; I had powered up.  I could now, without any feeling of guilt, call myself a novelist; a novelist with a novel.  So then comes the next stage, you begin to write something else, and you give yourself different goals this time.  This time, maybe someone will actually read what you’re writing (you begin to break into a cold sweat).  Then someone does.  They like it: success number two.

And I think this is how it all has to build because it is a long, long process, and if the only success you have in mind is money or fame, then surely that’s too big to a mission to contemplate, and that’s got to be the wrong reason to contemplate it.  And in my opinion, writing should come from the want to explore ideas, not to want to suck in money.  However that would be nice as a by-product, of course.

So in terms of my successes, the next one for me will be getting someone in the industry to read something that I’ve written; the next one after that: get them to like it.

So good luck with your successes, big or small, and remember – don’t look too far in front of you or you’ll only scare yourself off altogether.  Stick with simple, and then build and build.

Rob.

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