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August 15, 2013

Gauging success as a writer

A few years ago, before I had my first piece of work published, I really didn’t know what I wanted out of writing. Obviously there were the dreams of big time publishing, massive advances, the TV / movie tie-ins, and bestseller lists. At the time though, being honest, I wanted only two things: 1/ to writer something publishable and 2/ to have people like it.

August 2009 was when I got my first publishing credit. The story was a flash fiction piece called ‘Rainbow’ and the magazine was a now defunct indy ‘arts’ ‘zine called ‘Offshoot’. When I got the email confirming that they’d like to publish my piece I realised that I had suddenly fulfilled the first part of my writing dreams: I had been published. The feedback from the editor (lady by the name of Melanie) was great but, even better, was the handful of reviews that the magazine and my story got. I don’t know how many people read the story, in total, but I know that out of those that did I got a handful (5 or 6 as memory recalls) positive reviews from it.

Now, six years later, I have had many pieces of work published – from micro fiction, to flash, to short stories, and even a novella – and am currently working on the manuscript for my first full novel which an agent has asked to read. I’ve met a lot of great, and talented, writers in the years and am now a lot more grounded in my expectations in terms of the rewards. Do I still hope for the big things – best-selling book, TV/movie deal, money, etc? Of course I do and I am working hard towards them.

End of the day, though, I realise that I am very happy with my first two goals: writing good stuff and people enjoying them.

That is how I gauge my success as a writer.

If I wanted to earn money fast I would do what a couple of friends of mine do and buy/sell on Ebay, or play poker online. Both of these seem to make more money than I do – being honest even my aunt has more success playing Bingo at bingogodz.com than I do; I’m pretty sure that she’s earned more money there than I have with writing all year :)

Like I said, though, it doesn’t matter. I will keep on writing. I will check places like Duotrope regularly to see what markets suit my writing, and I will be thankful for the fact that I have publishers like Fox Spirit Books who like my work enough to include it within their excellent anthologies.

So, I’ll keep writing if you guys keep reading …and that would be my advice to all of you out there!