Are we hung up on getting things published as the only measure of success?

Success is measured not in how much money you make and in how many best sellers you have. Success is personal to you. 

I thought I would talk about this because I am well aware that I talk a lot about publishing as the ultimate goal — and with good reason, because for most of us that is the goal. I also work in publishing, so I see my Blog as a place to talk about all things writing; the nuts and bolts of it as well as what inspires us and how publishing works and so on. But it came to my attention recently that we do rather make publishing the be all and end all. I know the writing group I used to chair and now am vice chair, changed because my focus was very publishing orientated. When it started a year before I was thrust into the leadership role, I had not had anything published, not did I know very much about it. My personal journey over those three years in the helm saw publishing success and my job for Bridge House and not only myself, but a few members of the group also started to get published. So naturally the focus became very much about that. I hold my hand up to that.

And in many ways, even with other leaders who have really added new life (I think it’s vital to share leadership) things have changed, we all leave our marks — but still I know I steer many discussions towards publishing. And I know some people do not feel this is the only way to go.

So I think we need to shake things up and talk about other things too, within the group.

I recall now one lovely lady who was in the group when it first started, a German lady. She delighted in bringing cakes along, often to the annoyance of the lady who ran the cafe! Understandably. But yummy German cakes sneaked under tables are always good — right? And I think she missed her homeland as she got older. Many of her stories reflected that, wonderful fairy tales she’d created, often about her home and always magical. These, I recall, were handwritten, amazing when you think as well English was not her first language. We’d all sit around munching these forbidden cakes while she read to us, like child’s bedtime. I have a feeling she is no longer with us, this lovely lady, I think she died some time ago now. But what I think she does, as she invades my memory now, is remind us what writing should be. The writing wasn’t perfect, it would probably never be picked up by a publisher, she would never make money from it. But she didn’t write it for that. She never sent it off anywhere — she probably never typed it up. What she did was write it, enjoy writing it, edit it and then read it out to smiling faces stuffed with her home-made cake. It was that very thing that I know made her happy (and us fat!). I think there is a lesson in there for all of us. Success for her was what she saw in our faces. (not cake!)

So maybe the emphasis is loaded towards measuring success by the number of books lined up on the shelves carrying our name. She says glancing at her own books … yes I do sadly measure it that way. But I also measure it in ‘good rejections’, positive comments and how I see it improve. It’s a tough journey. I am guilty of making getting my novel accepted almost like ‘life and death’. I have only cried once, as in really cried when it didn’t happen. And that was because the agent was so positive and the back and forth went on for three months. And I made the mistake of seeing it happen, of tasting the feeling (as the Law of Attraction says you should) but when she ‘didn’t quite love it enough’ I felt about as deflated as you could get. I have had a great many very near misses, and I like to think I am now a little more pragmatic and hardened to it … but it has to hurt … because it means so much. And I know I will write and write and do whatever it takes to be as good as I can be. I know we can all be very hard on ourselves when all we need to do is look at how far we’ve come, right?

And perhaps we ought to think about that lovely German lady, Bernie her name was … and remember that we are successful. All of us. We are. We are. We are. And never forget that.

Even if, like me, you still yearn for that novel success with a hunger that hurts … keep going and think about Bernie once in a while, because you are already successful.

Success is measured not in how much money you make and in how many best sellers you have. Success is personal to you. 




Filed under Angels, being a successful writer, Bridge House Publishing, Learning to be a writer, Literary Fiction, Living the dream, Loss, Love, Mainstream Fiction, Mentoring, Novel writing, Passion for writing, Publishing, Reading, Rejection, Securing an agent, Winning, Writing, Writing groups

4 responses to “Are we hung up on getting things published as the only measure of success?

  1. That’s a lovely tribute to Bernie. They say it’s not what you do in life, but how you’re remembered that counts and I’d say we can all identify with her mothering ways, how kind she was.

  2. Pingback: Success Is in Your Hands | The HeSo Project

  3. Pingback: Success Is in Your Hands | Chaos Publishing

  4. Pingback: Success is In Your Hands! | Chaos Publishing

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