Tag Archives: success?

What is Success?

When I first started writing, and knew that I was new and had a lot to learn, I felt like a success if I could just finish a short story and have all the parts in the right place with no big  problems.  If the story came together well enough, I’d read The Gila Queen to see if it might fit anywhere.  (The Gila Queen’s a marketing newsletter that I subscribed to.  It’s still available online, but I haven’t looked at it for a long time.  If you’d like to:      https://hellnotes.com/gila-queens-guide-to-markets-166/   )

I really enjoyed The Gila Queen, because it listed small magazines that were looking for short stories and paid in copies, as well as established publications that paid cash for each word.  If I found something that looked like a good fit, I’d mail (yes, snail mail) my story off and hope for the best.  If the editor wanted it, I felt like a success.  Now, mind you, success might mean that I received two free copies of the mag with my work in it.  I didn’t care.  Someone wanted my work.  Sometimes, success meant that a respected editor took the time to write a thoughtful rejection about why my work didn’t fit their magazine.  To me, that meant my writing was good enough to warrant a bit of their time.  And I was grateful.

Another reason I liked Gila Queen was because editors looking for stories for anthologies would list what they were looking for or the theme for that edition.  And often, those themes gave me ideas to try.  And sometimes, those ideas came together in a story that the editor took.  Eventually, those small sells led to bigger sells to bigger magazines, and after that, I got brave enough to try to write a book.

My first stab at a novel only stretched to 20,000 words–what some might consider failure.  I considered it success, because I’d never written anything that long before, and I’d learned a lot from the experience.  My second “novel” came in at 40,000 words and a tiny press in Baltimore bought it to print as newspapers for passengers to buy at airports to read on their flights.  Success.  Of course, no one ever heard of Gourmet Killings, but the editor liked it and passengers bought it.  Good enough for me.

These days, I still measure success with a slide rule.  For my Jazzi series, I look at numbers–rankings and sells.  But for Muddy River, I’m letting the series build slowly, so if my numbers are tolerable and I hear a good review, hey–success.

Why am I going on about this?  It’s a fluke, really.  John Tesh just happened to be on the radio when I was listening to it to pass time.  And what waa he talking about?  Success.  His message?  People say, “I’ll be happy when I’m successful.”  But success is hardly ever exactly what they thought it would be.  Or it comes at a higher price or more work than they anticipated.  He believed that the cause and effect should be reversed, that “happiness brings success, not vice versa.”  Because we  measure it differently.  We count one success at a time and are happy when we reach the next one.

I’m not saying disappointment doesn’t flatten me sometimes.  We all get frustrated and mumble about quitting, giving up, it’s too hard.  I felt like I was beating my head against the author wall when I wrote romance after romance that couldn’t get any traction.  But when that happens, it’s time to stop and rethink, to try something else.  And sometimes, we have to realize that we’re aiming for an impossible goal.  A near miracle.  We’re setting our goals and dreams too high.

That’s what Ilona Andrews’ blog was about today.  Sometimes, we’re simply unrealistic. http://www.ilona-andrews.com/on-writers-self-validation-of/ We don’t reach the pinnacle of success, so we consider ourselves failures.  Instead of embracing what we’ve done right or well, we look at where we’ve fallen short.  I’m not saying to quit trying.  We should always do our best.  We have to give ourselves the best chance we can to reach our goals.  But when we don’t, it just means that that particular effort didn’t work.  So we have to try something else and try again.

Keep hitting those keys, and happy writing!

 

 

 

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Moving Forward

It’s December, and I’m not as far in writing my book as I meant to be.  I’m not as far at ANYTHING as I meant to be.  This year has sort of gotten away from me.  My broken leg didn’t help.  It’s cost me a lot of time, but next week, I have therapy on Monday and Thursday, and those are my last sessions.  I love my therapists.  Every single one of them at the clinic is awesome.  I’ll miss them.  I won’t miss the actual therapy:)  It never feels good, and it’s really cut into my writing time.  It’s made my leg better and stronger, but I thought I’d be skipping through the back yard by now, which made my therapist laugh. She advised me to just keep doing my exercises and getting better with my cane.  She said it’s going to be a long, slow process and that I probably won’t be feeling frisky again until next August.  She reminded me that I’ve come a long way, and I just need to be patient.

I hate being patient.  Hate waiting.  But I’m doing the same thing with my writing.  When I got a book contract and a publisher, I did a happy dance.  And my editor John Scognamiglio and all of the people who work with me at Kensington/Lyrical Shine are wonderful. They’ve done a fantastic job of promoting my books, but I’m still not a best-selling author.  I knew it would take work as a self-published author, but with a publisher behind me, why aren’t I selling more?  Because my agent and editor both told me that building name recognition takes TIME.  A fellow writer told me that she didn’t really start selling until she published her fifth book in a series.  Another writer told me her books didn’t take off until she published her seventh humorous romance, that she had to build an audience.  Aargh!  I’ve come a long way, but I have a long way to go.  Just like my leg.

Writers tend to think of agents and editors as enemies when they don’t have them, but if you’re lucky enough to get good ones, they’re willing to stick in there and help you grow. They know how the business works, and they actually DO care about writers.  They’re serious about books and authors.  They’re willing to invest time and energy in them, even when they’re buried under manuscripts and slush pile pages.  Most people in publishing are over-worked!  I’ve just published romance number three, so I’ve sort of come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to be an instant success.  Most people aren’t.  I’ve never been instantly wonderful at anything, and I guess writing shouldn’t be an exception.  But I’m making progress.  I’m moving forward. I’m working on romance number six right now.  And someday, I hope I have name recognition, that people look forward to buying my next books.

Wherever you are in your life, in what you’re striving for, have a great December!  Judy

http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

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