Success as a writer

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

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SEPTEMBER QUESTION: 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?

MY ANSWER: I guess success is different for everyone. For me, success is huge. Ilona Andrews is a success as a writer. Lois McMaster Bujold is a success. They have made it into the big league.  I – not so much. I did have a number of my short stories published in magazines and anthologies. And a couple of novels. I even won an award for one of my novels. I do have an income from my work as a journalist. Small income, but I think it counts. But overall, am I a successful professional writer? I don’t think so. I don’t have millions of fans buying my every book. It feels more like a hobby that is edging into the professional territory. But it gives me joy to make up my own stories and write them down in the best English I can. So, no complaints. What about you?

This entry was posted in Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Success as a writer

  1. Success is a hard word to define. If it is about other people’s perceptions or money I suppose it can be measured. Just the same your statement ‘…it gives me joy to make up my own stories and write them down in the best English I can.’ sings of success to me. And of course it is never a static point.

  2. I think the most important thing is that it gives you joy. Not all of us can make big money from our writing, but it doesn’t mean we’re not successful.

  3. If you have fans and it gives you joy, then continue with your successful fun!

  4. Steph W says:

    I consider the stories I’ve read by you to be a success! But I get what you are saying about the bar being quite high for a professional writer.

  5. spunkonastick says:

    In this world, joy is most certainly success.

  6. patgarcia says:

    Hi,
    I call what you have accomplished so far a success. Authors with millions of dollars can be the unhappiest people in the world and I think we lose something of ourselves when we think that success is based on how many thousands of readers one has.
    Have a great September.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  7. I’m with you. I’m not a success if you judge by books being sold, but I have succeeded in many things regarding writing so I’m not about to call myself a failure just because my writing isn’t paying the bills (yet.)

  8. Julia Quay says:

    So right, Olga! The joy of telling a story is the point. Everything else is gravy.

    Love gravy, though.

  9. Rebecca Douglass says:

    Maybe there’s a difference between success and satisfaction? Seems like your writing is going well, and doing something good for you, whether or not you call that success. I think most of us have chosen humbler markers for success because we need to feel that we’re successful?

  10. Lee Lowery says:

    Success is, indeed, in the eye of the beholder. I’ve lived long enough to see a lot of people who achieved fame and fortune self-destruct, so those things are not always a marker of success. Like you, I find joy in writing my stories. And that is success for me.

  11. Jemi Fraser says:

    I’m happy with my small income and the joy I get from my stories as well! :).

  12. emaginette says:

    To me, not all success has to be huge. So congrats on what you’ve done. I truly believe it counts. 🙂
    Anna from elements of emaginette

  13. Jenni says:

    It sounds like you are a success to me! I think having novel-length work, especially in your nonnative language, is a huge accomplishment.

    Personally, big success doesn’t appeal to me. Having fans who like your work is a great marker of success!

  14. It sounds like you’re a professional writer–a journalist. Kudos!

  15. 3mpodcast says:

    It sounds like you’re successful, but I tend to think success depends upon what goals you’ve set yourself. If you’re doing what you want to be doing, you’re successful. (Shannon @thewarriormuse)

  16. yvettecarol says:

    I think that’s a really good way of putting it, Olga. Doing well could do better and yet I still have no complaints.

  17. Widdershins says:

    I think if we like our writing, if we are comfortable with the art of writing, (always with room to grow) then we are a satisfied writer.
    If we have a firm grasp of the craft of writing, (mostly challenged within the editing process 😀 ) then we are an accomplished writer.
    Success however, no matter how we want to reframe it, is determined in today’s world/culture, by whether or not we’re published.
    ‘Published’ does get a little blurry since the advent of self-publishing, so my definition there needs a little expanding to include sales. Therein lies another conundrum though. Does 1 sale count? (assuming it’s not to a relative or friend who buys it because of your relationship) Do a hundred sales count?
    Perhaps true success as an author/writer requires that we duplicate (and hopefully increase) the sales for consecutive works. The old saw of write-edit-publish-write another one, rinse and repeat. 😀

  18. mlouisebarbourfundyblue says:

    If your writing brings you joy, Olga, that that is a huge success! Take care!

  19. Thank you Olga for your candour and modesty. I so admire your writing , the way you spin your very imaginative stories. Do you write in any other language too ? Happy September creativity.

  20. Loni Townsend says:

    To be a household name–that would be an awesome success. I hope you get there someday, and I’m glad you’re finding joy in the meantime.

  21. cleemckenzie says:

    Being published at all these days takes a huge amount of time and effort. If you’ve published something, I’d say that qualifies as a success. Building readership takes a while and one heck of a lot of persistence by the author. Keep writing and have as much fun as you can while doing it.

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