The concept of success has always been interesting to me, and the way I define it has changed greatly over the years. For a lot of people, monetary wealth (or the lack there of) is the only earmark of success that counts. For some, it’s academic achievement. For others, it’s about power and influence in the community (which is typically bought with money).
I wonder, though, what is required to be considered a successful author?
Not too long ago, I would have consider the act of simply writing a book as the line between success and failure. Then I wrote a book and it felt like a victory for a little while. After the second or third, it became routine, not really a big of deal at all.
For some, I imagine a publishing contract would be the definition of success as a writer. But there are different levels of contracts. A quick comparison between my annual income to JK Rowling’s makes that all too clear.
Perhaps success as a writer means mastering the craft of writing, of being able to put together words in such a way that others weep at the beauty you’ve created.
Or maybe it’s topping a best seller list? It’s gotta be cool to top the NYT list, right? Or maybe it’s reader recognition in the form of good reviews? Or maybe awards from respected institutions? Or maybe it’s about earning enough to pay the mortgage and feed your kids?
I haven’t quite figured out what benchmark I need to reach in order to consider myself a successful writer. I suspect that once I reach that point, the definition would change anyway. For now, I’m pretty damn happy with life in general and, when it comes right down to it, that’s why we chase success, right? In order to be happy?
What about the rest of you, writers and readers? What makes a writer successful?