Successful Failure: How Do You Measure?

Being a writer is not how many pieces you have published. It’s a hard industry to break into and requires so much patience! But one thing people don’t understand about writers is that we typically don’t make much, if anything. We may not have a list of publications as large as that of, say, Stephen King. But we all have to start somewhere. This is 2012, and the writing industry has changed considerably from what it has in 2000, 1990, 1980, and 1880. Many writers that we know today were not successful in their own time, but they were and are writers nonetheless. We are all too often criticized and stereotyped because we haven’t made it to “Danielle Steele Status”. But that’s not what being a writer is about for those of us that are ingrained with it as a fiery passion.

This question arose when I mentioned that many of my writer friends (and myself included) tend to write a lot more on Facebook than my non-writer friends. Am I an oddball in that aspect? Perhaps. But I feel I blend better with writers because they don’t think I’m weird for writing so much.

And I was told I’m not a writer. Well, yes I am. Just not a successful one. Or, to clarify, successful to the standards of those who believe writers are supposed to be bringing in money like mad, droppin’ G’s at all the high-end boutiques to fill a walk-in closet! When I tell people I’m a writer, some assume that I’m rich and famous, and have connections to “The Beautiful People”, and do I know so&so? They wonder why they’ve never heard my name, and why I’m not on the NY Times Bestseller list. I should be sippin’ on sweet tea poolside as I write my next masterpiece before my big dinner party that I have planned for the evening. It’s black-tie. And don’t worry about the spill in the kitchen; Claude will take care of it. I forgot to clean up after my parrot, but it’s okay; that’s why she has a nanny!

I’ve had some pretty interesting gigs here and there, and some which I am very proud of! Particularly the interviews, reviews, and that kind of thing. Anything that gives me a first-hand glimpse into someone’s world. That’s what I live for! That, and the hopes of making the transition from a writer to a published author with my novel.

Now, it wasn’t that I was actually questioned about being a writer. I was told that I wasn’t. And then I began to question myself about being a writer. Am I? I mean, I haven’t had a lot of big projects. I’ve done a lot of neat things that I am excited about. I’ve had a lot of credits to my name and to another name, as well. Am I rolling in dough yet? No. Will I ever? It’d be nice, but if it’s in my cards it is going to take time, patience, and a lot of hard work with committed dedication. And these unrealistic expectations of success? Bosh! I was told by another writer that some people she knows have earned awards of great status, yet they don’t make a ton of money off of the work that has been recognized for these acheivements.

So there it is. I’m a writer. I may not have books with my name on it on the shelves at grocery store checkout aisles. I may not be found on dot-com bookstores. But all in due time, and even if I didn’t believe that, would I still work as hard at it? You betcha! But part of the reason I haven’t gone the route of self-publication and the reason I am promoting smaller projects is because I am searching for an agent to represent me before I brave the literary world alone. That’s how I’d like to roll. I know that I could do it all on my own if I decided that was the best option and outlet for my work, but I would love to work alongside someone with as much passion for my work as I have. It would behoove me to have the advice of someone who knows the ropes. Someone to guide and assist me to that I can be the best I can be when it comes to editing suggestions, and, of course, how to be the best cheerleader I can for my work. And by cheerleader, I just mean I want to successfully help in marketing my work. I wanted to clarify so that people aren’t envisioning me at bookstores dressed as a cheerleader, jumping around and spelling out the name of my book with a megaphone in one hand and a pom-pom in the other. Not like anyonewouldhave thought that. But you know…I just had to clarify. Of course, if an agent were to tell me that’s what had to be done to sell more copies and get my name out there, then I wouldn’t be above popping pigtails in my hair and getting decked out in a cheerleading uniform withForever Gothic, the title of my novel, scrawled across the front of my blouse.

As Morriseey said, and I am paraphrasing a tad, that one is a writer by compulsion.

That’s the way I’ve always felt. I write because it is in me. Forrest Gump was a runner, no doubt. And if Katy Perry can be a singer, then I most definitely can say I’m a writer.

But this can be attributed to any field. If you make movies, you’re a film-maker. If you write poetry, you’re a poet. If you make music, you’re a musician. If you make art, you’re an artist. And if you write, you’re a writer.

Don’t let people dictate what you are because of their harsh judgements on what “success” is. Instead, let your own accomplishments tell the story so that others can see your passion for whatever it is that you do. As long as you love the game, keep playing! Hey, ya never know where it might lead you! You may reach that unattainable golden star some day (I guess that star would be the sun). Then you can look down at all the naysayers while getting a tan!