As a writer just starting to get work published, though one whose been writing for a long time, this seemed like an appropriate place to start.
Will I succeed? It’s a thought that plagues all writers at some point. Even the most arrogant, because unless they are actually delusional, those who are so full of themselves and sure of their talent have their moments of doubt too. Trust me on this.
The thoughts that go through our heads on this topic are vast and numerous. Will I succeed, we think, as we read about the latest book deal for thousands of dollars or pounds for that awesome debut novel that everyone in the publishing industry is talking about. Will I succeedd, when the print and online media, writing blogs, publishing blogs, and off the cuff twitter remarks declare how hard it is to get published in today’s world, how the whole scene is changing with the uptake of eBooks and eReaders. Will I succeed, thinks the script writer, wondering who the hell amongst the people they know might have a line to someone who can get films made or plays produced, because it’s all about connections, don-cha-know? Will I succeed, when we look at the top ten best-sellers and wonder if our work just doesn’t fit any kind of marketable mould that could be sold.
Then we open up our word documents, stare at the blank page, and the fear of not succeeding, that all our efforts will be for nought, that we could put years and years of work into this and get precisely no where…and it paralyses us. (Or me at least.)
And that’s just the question of publication and production. Getting that first foot in the door is one thing, but then after that…you begin to wonder what actually counts as success. Am I successful, for instance? In some people’s eyes, yes. I’ve been published. And that is a really wonderful feeling. But then other questions come up. Will I be read? Will people remember my work in a long time to come, or will it just be a flash in the pan? Am I successful if the critics love me but my books sell poorly, or if I make piles of money while the critics groan and wish I never put pen to paper? Which of those counts as ‘success’?
Then we make a cup of tea/preferred hot beverage and contemplate these deeper questions. We wonder what our options are. Should I go for the traditional path of agent/publisher/print book? Do I try follow in the steps of eBook success stories like Amanda Hocking? Do I try for short stories, do I focus on my novel ideas, do I seek out network connections before my work is even finished? And what’s this social networking thing over here…
So many questions…but the answers will not come. Because I won’t really know if I am successful until, well, I am. Sure, I may have some predefined set of criteria that mark success, and I’ve hit the first one of those (publication), but will I be satisfied with just good feedback from people but no monetary gain? Will I be content to rake in the dollars but also the contempt of intelligent folks I respect? Will any of what I do matter?
All I can do is keep writing, keep trying to get work published, and hope.
And try not to be so anxious about this question. 😉