Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Let's Talk "Success"

So I ran across this post from the super-talented Susan Dennard and it made me think.

Mostly it made me think because I disagreed with Susan's response, which pretty much never happens.

In a nutshell, the question posed was "Is liking to write enough to be a successful writer...some successful writers say no."

Susan replied with some well-placed expletives and assurance that YES liking to write is enough.

And it gave me pause.

Because I realized neither the question, nor the "some writers," nor Susan really defined "successful."

It makes a big difference.  If successful means published, I have to disagree.  I'll lay it out there--I don't think that liking writing is enough to be a published author.  Liking doesn't mean consistent doing.  Liking doesn't mean that you have set a goal or made a commitment.  Pursuing publication demands a kind of grit that takes your relationship with writing beyond liking it to marrying it, if we'll allow for that metaphor.

Of course, you can like something and derive enjoyment from doing it without having any goal attached to it at all.  And that's fine.  And I'd say that makes you successful.

Look, I love to bake pies.  It's something I derive great enjoyment from. I have strong opinions about the craft of pie-baking--that lard and butter makes the best crust, that you have to vary the thinness of your fruit slicing so you get satisfying filling, all kinds of nuances that I get oddly excited about. However, I have never set goals for myself in terms of baking that are akin to my goals in writing.  Does that mean I'm a failed pie baker?  I don't think so.  I like it, I enjoy it, I am happy with (most of) my pie creations--I'll call that success for the goals I've set.

So let's not undervalue the non-publishing goals, but let's also not sugar coat the reality of publishing goals--it means you have to take liking writing to the next level.

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