Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

What Is #Success for a #Writer?


What Is #Success for a #Writer? I’ve considered this question before—check out these 15 posts on various aspects of “success” (after scrolling down one of the pages, click on the “Older posts” link…)

Now to add to those considerations with an article by author, editor, writing coach, writing workshop leader, and spiritual counselor, Noelle Sterne, entitled, What Is Writing Success?

As usual, I’ll share some excerpts and urge you to read the full article…

First, the “usual” expectations:

“All of us writers know what writing success is: A call from the big agent, a sale to the big publisher, a big big advance, big-promoted publication, big sales figures, big royalties, movie rights, sitcom rights, audio book rights, serialization rights, spinoffs, foreign translations, talk show appearances, multiple awards, weeks and weeks on the Times bestseller list, and even getting asked for an autograph at the supermarket.”

Then, a bit of the truth:

“Many writers (and others) who attain fame react less than positively when they become successful in these terms. After the first thrilling flush, as Internet headlines and tabloids attest, the newly famous often turn to alcohol, drugs, food, uncontrollable spending, mansion collecting, or relentless sexual conquests. A few even commit suicide.”

Noelle then talks about what she experienced after one of her books did better than usual:

“I felt special and important, reveling in all the busyness and attention. But after a while, an inexplicable itchiness seeped in, like a creeping rash. I ate too much, slept too long, and snapped at everyone within mouthshot.”

“This response, I’ve since learned, is common to many writers who reach a longed-for goal. In a letter to a beginning writer, the novelist and short story writer B. J. Chute speaks of the ‘so-called rewards of success’:

“‘Curiously enough, when they do come, you may find that they are not as rewarding as you thought they would be. You may find yourself eager only to get on with the next ivory-tower job.’ (Outside the Ivory Tower: A Letter to a Young Writer, The Writer, January 1983, p. 12).”

And, even though I’m now going to excerpt her summation, I still urge you to go read the full article:

“Let us see each of our writing achievements as another turn upward on our evolving spiral of creative discovery and mastery. This is how we’ll become better and happier writers. We won’t yield to the temptations of externals alone and will probably be surprised when they appear. But mostly, we’ll know with calm certainty, even joy, that true writing success is our writing itself.”

So…

Care to share Your thoughts and feelings about writing “success” in the Comments?
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