M: the Meaning of success

What does success mean to you?

How long does the warm fuzzy feeling of success last before you're aiming for the next rung on the ladder?

Like Christopher Mohar, one of our presenters at the Writer's Institute Conference said, we don't need a license to write.  And we don't earn one either.  There's no test.  Anyone can pick up a pen (or in my case play the keyboard on my laptop).  As writers, we're constantly learning.  (Even the successful ones.  Or so I'm told)

We're constantly trying to maneuver ourselves around the next curve and over the next bump in the road.

erica and I discussed this while walking from our hotel to the conference center.  We admitted to each other that we don't just write to write.  I don't rewrite, revise, edit, etc just for my own happiness and well-being.  I do it because I want the best dang manuscript I can possibly write to submit to agents.  Because to me success is becoming a traditionally published author.  (I'm absolutely NOT saying that anyone who chooses to self-publish and market their work is anything but successful.  It's just not the path I'm choosing to take.)

However, or maybe I should say luckily, I have may other tiny rungs on my ladder to success to keep me climbing.  (And believe me, without them, I'd give up for sure.  I guess I'm just not that strong of a person.  I can take the harshest criticism.  Keep it coming, but unless there's some encouragement (and I don't mean "You can do  it, Christy.") to let me know my writing (manuscript) shows a glimmer of talent (however buried it may be), I don't want to waste my time or anyone else's.

Before I knew anything about any of this writing/publishing world, all I wanted was to complete my first manuscript.  check.  Then, I started a blog.  check.  I attended my first (online) writing conference and got my first critiques.  (okay, I didn't feel so very successful at that point, BUT learning was/is a really thick rung and I'd made it there.  so check.)  Then I made writing friends.  check.  We gained followers for our blog and more friends.  check.  I read more and more blog sites and continued learning (yes, learning occurs at more than one rung).  check.  check.  I attended a real writing conference.  check.  I got feedback that made me think I had something.  I started thinking of myself as a writer.  check.  I'm a writer!

So, I've gotten that far.

Do I have setbacks?  Yes.  For every "good job/gold star" there's about five setbacks.  But that's okay.  Because I do write because I love it.  I do write my stories because I love them.  So...there's that.

Mostly, I don't want to spend years on just one manuscript that doesn't have "it".  I've heard from several successful writers that they'd spent gruelling amounts of time on an early manuscript only to move on and complete a new one almost instantly.  AND it was the one that poured out of their pen that sold.  And sold.  And sold.

Just the other night (Weds night to be exact.)  Kiersten White was on #yalitchat on twitter and said that she wrote Paranormalcy in three weeks and its sequel in two months.  WHAT?!?  I'm guessing that even if I were to write a bestseller that magically wrote itself, it'd take me at least four months.  She also said she rarely has to rewrite.  Her first drafts are pretty solid.  (I'd love to reach that rung!)

Not that my WIP is going to be a best seller, but the first page of it (that I wrote, edited once, and submitted for the hell of it) won third place in a first page contest.  (Against my completed novel's first page.)  My completed novel (completed twice, actually) that I'm just about ready to query, and have been working on for a year and a half, hasn't won a pitch contest, two first line contests, a first page contest, nada.  Not even an honorable mention or runner up.  The WIP is 60% done and hasn't caused me many problems at all.  My completed novel has been nothing but trouble.  BUT I love it and right now I am not going to take my own advice, based on Kiersten's experience, just yet.  (You know...to give up and move on.)  Maybe it's taken loads of work and time, but deep down, my inclination to keep perfecting it is as strong as the one to drop it.  I'm not ready to give up yet.

image credits here

After a year and a half of writing, I am here---------------->

You know....even after I get the top of that ladder, there's still the moon.  And then the stars.  Hmmm.
Once I'm published I'll want it to be a bestseller.  You know that, right? 

And then there's the books to come.
Maybe it's not a ladder, but a carousel.

oh, and a book for M
now on our TBR list: 

Matched by Ally Condie



  1. I don't know if it's your first or not - but that one is the hardest to move on from! And sometimes we don't see how much we've improved until we write another one. But def. get it into good shape and send it out there!

    And finishing a wip in 2 weeks is not the norm, so don't try and compare!

  2. I'm pretty much in 'that place' too. My manuscript hasn't been able to snag an agent yet though so I'm moving on...:(

  3. Okay, I hate Keirsten.

    Just kidding. I love editing, so I'm happy that things don't magically happen in my first draft.

    I spent over a year trying to get my last WIP ready to query (I queried prematurely). I see it as growing as a writer and it's been worth it. I've had some success querying it (I call getting requests success), but I decided to put it on hold for now (I need to put it through the intensive workout my current WIP is going through). Plus, I think my current WIP (which is flowing like never before) is more likely to snag me an agent (though that might still not happen).

  4. Super cute blog, ladies!

    It's a long and tough journey. After 7 novels, I'm JUST getting to the point where I could be competitive enough to land an agent.

    Onward and upward.

  5. I'm so with you Christy.... I put my first novel aside to write another one which I did in six weeks. The first is finally done and I'm querying... We will see what happens.

    In the meantime, I just keep plugging away.

  6. It IS my first novel and I'm hanging on for dear life! (Just kidding.)

    I'll never shoot for finishing a novel in two weeks or two months!

    If it takes me ten novels to get published, then I'll just keep writing!

    BTW, my arrow looked a few rungs higher in my draft.... I think I'm on rung 3 or 4 at least!

    Christy :0)

  7. yeah... there are the tiers of success (agented/published/published under my own name/best seller/NYT Bestseller/movie deal)--always something to keep shooting for. Then there are the milestones within each step...

    I wrote my 2nd book in 6 weeks (while working full time) and while it's had some real editing, it hasn't been horrible--sometimes it really does just come. I can envision 3 weeks if that inspiration was there and I had all day to write. (there have been 3 WriMos, too, but not as clean)

  8. You gals are full of tough questions this week. I think I'm more concerned about providing for my family and happiness, than what others call success. Eating good food makes us happy. Traveling to interesting places (with good food) makes us happy. Writing makes me happy. The idea of someday being published makes me happy.

  9. In terms of writing, my goal and definition of success is to be published. In terms of life, I agree with you, Vicki, my family's health, happiness and fullness of life are my goals. Family will always come first for me. :0) C

  10. Christy - we've got too many people in our corner to give up. That's one of the great things about blogging!

    Oh, and Michael - if it weren't for us, you'd never have written the Blinded Gardener. You can thank us in your acknowledgments. :)

  11. A carousel. Very true! Nice image. I'll remember it the next time I feel like I'm going in circles.

    I see your comment counter has mysteriously changed its numbers round just like mine has... good to know it's a common malady.

  12. You're so right. It's incredibly hard to move on from the first novel. I'm still trying to talk myself into doing it and failing miserably.


Stay and chat with us! Share your thoughts.