Other ways to define success

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Other ways to define success

Postby Sommer Leigh » 07 Feb 2011, 06:46

Today over at Shrinking Violet Productions, agent Erin Murphy guest posted about how publishing success is like a snowflake...every author's experience is different, but we tend to define success in highly visible terms: bestseller lists, headliner spots at conventions, how loud the buzz is across the major book blogs. Erin Murphy lists some less visible successes that authors often don't think about.

I'm guessing most of us here on the Bransforums are unpublished, or what we have published is on the smaller scale. I am also guessing that we dream about the same big success milestones: finishing a manuscript, writing a query letter that is well accepted by a critical group of peers, an agent contract, a book deal, big advance, a release date. These are great milestones, no doubt, and for a lot of people these are the only successes that validate us as writers.

Like Erin Murphy suggests, I think there are other successes too. "This is not to say that it’s not okay to have goals to reach new kinds of success—but you will stay much more sane if those are goals you have some measure of control over. Most of the high visibility measures of success are completely out of your control—and therefore crazy-making." http://shrinkingvioletpromotions.blogspot.com/2011/02/literary-agent-erin-murphy-success-is.html



I think it would be a great Monday morning exercise to put our heads together and create a list of less attention grabbing successes we sometimes don't recognize for their significance.



One of my favorites? When I send something out to Beta readers and in less than 24 hours I get a note back that says, "Please send more. Now."
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Re: Other ways to define success

Postby poptart » 07 Feb 2011, 07:39

I'm waist-deep in revising my Nano novel at the moment, and I love those moments when you rewrite a scene or find just the right word or phrase to make that ugly duckling into a swan. Little Victories. :)
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Re: Other ways to define success

Postby cheekychook » 07 Feb 2011, 08:16

Agreed that any time someone reads my work quickly and then asks for more it's a very good feeling. I had a few people read my entire novel in 24 hours because they "couldn't put it down" and "had to see what happened"---that's a rush. I don't care about being a best seller or getting an advance, I just want people to read my book and fall in love with my characters and enjoy the time they spend with them. That's it. Unfortunately all the other depressing, nerve wracking, beyond your control stuff is a necessary step in the traditional process of getting your stuff read by lots of people.

Another favorite mini-success? Having someone who's read your book quote back a line of it to you at a funny/opportune moment. I love it when that happens.
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Re: Other ways to define success

Postby Robin » 07 Feb 2011, 08:43

I've got a good one. I just got a reply from a Beta that read "With your character depth and engaging prose, you should consider Lit Fic". I nearly fell out of my chair after reading that. Hell, when I started I didn't even know what "prose" were :)

These small victories add a rung to that ladder of success we call publishing.
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Re: Other ways to define success

Postby polymath » 07 Feb 2011, 09:23

Robin wrote:I've got a good one. I just got a reply from a Beta that read "With your character depth and engaging prose, you should consider Lit Fic". I nearly fell out of my chair after reading that. Hell, when I started I didn't even know what "prose" were :)

These small victories add a rung to that ladder of success we call publishing.


"What 'prose' were." Hilarious pun and on point too in its multiple entendres. Subtextual. Metafictive.

Successes from reading, writing, and literature study give me insight into my psychic zeitgeist, the collection of failings, frailties, and strengths that make up my true psychosocial-sexual identity. It's not just getting the it of a well-crafted published narrative, it's getting the it which resonates with me privately and I share with the larger public, which builds a tenuous connection to the society of humanity. My writing goal expressed in a nutshell.

Of course, earning financial independence through writing income wouldn't hurt my feelings, a retirement income actually. Yet the real reward has been coming to terms with myself, my problems, and my personal society and greater society's indifference toward me. I'm not healed, but I am able to healthier cope with failures and successes and the bolts and bombs of discordance. I credit my writing ambitions for leading me toward satori.
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Re: Other ways to define success

Postby Louise Curtis » 07 Feb 2011, 16:13

I count my writing hours, crossing off hundreds of little boxes each year. It helps.
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Re: Other ways to define success

Postby Aimée » 07 Feb 2011, 16:45

polymath wrote:It's not just getting the it of a well-crafted published narrative, it's getting the it which resonates with me privately and I share with the larger public, which builds a tenuous connection to the society of humanity.


Yeah! I like that.
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Re: Other ways to define success

Postby Quill » 07 Feb 2011, 18:02

I get a lift from the feeling that I nailed it, that I rendered my vision upon the page with little to no distortion in translation, that it says what I want it to say, that it shines, that it is music.
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Re: Other ways to define success

Postby Claudie » 07 Feb 2011, 18:47

I get a lift whenever I fix something major. Big plotholes. Character development I've been struggling with. Anything that was an obvious flaw in my work.

Every new draft finished. Every word nailed. Every dialogue that comes alive. Every scene completed. I take pleasure in small successes.
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Re: Other ways to define success

Postby Quill » 07 Feb 2011, 19:17

Claudie wrote:I get a lift whenever I fix something major. Big plotholes. Character development I've been struggling with. Anything that was an obvious flaw in my work.

Every new draft finished. Every word nailed. Every dialogue that comes alive. Every scene completed. I take pleasure in small successes.

Yeah. Love it.
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Re: Other ways to define success

Postby Robin » 07 Feb 2011, 20:26

polymath wrote:
Robin wrote:I've got a good one. I just got a reply from a Beta that read "With your character depth and engaging prose, you should consider Lit Fic". I nearly fell out of my chair after reading that. Hell, when I started I didn't even know what "prose" were :)

These small victories add a rung to that ladder of success we call publishing.


"What 'prose' were." Hilarious pun and on point too in its multiple entendres. Subtextual. Metafictive.

Successes from reading, writing, and literature study give me insight into my psychic zeitgeist, the collection of failings, frailties, and strengths that make up my true psychosocial-sexual identity. It's not just getting the it of a well-crafted published narrative, it's getting the it which resonates with me privately and I share with the larger public, which builds a tenuous connection to the society of humanity. My writing goal expressed in a nutshell.

Of course, earning financial independence through writing income wouldn't hurt my feelings, a retirement income actually. Yet the real reward has been coming to terms with myself, my problems, and my personal society and greater society's indifference toward me. I'm not healed, but I am able to healthier cope with failures and successes and the bolts and bombs of discordance. I credit my writing ambitions for leading me toward satori.


I know what you mean, Poly... I've never been so self analytical. Every character and scene I write, I've had to draw on some experience, whether its as small as a taste, as intimate as a first kiss, or even as scary as murder (not that I've done that...). Its better than therapy.

Oh yeah, and the retirement income won't hurt either ;)
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Re: Other ways to define success

Postby Cookie » 08 Feb 2011, 08:25

I take pleasure in having the what I called the connect the dots moments. Those are where I have scenes or ideas and don't know how to connect them, then all of the sudden ah-ha! Those are awesome.
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Re: Other ways to define success

Postby Sommer Leigh » 08 Feb 2011, 08:47

Cookie wrote:I take pleasure in having the what I called the connect the dots moments. Those are where I have scenes or ideas and don't know how to connect them, then all of the sudden ah-ha! Those are awesome.


I love those moments where I think up a scene or a bit of dialogue or a little detail in a scene and then later when I'm reading a completely separate part of the book it turns out I tied that little detail to something else without even doing it on purpose. I like to think of these moments as my brain working when I'm out to lunch.
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Re: Other ways to define success

Postby Down the well » 08 Feb 2011, 12:13

I just had my first male beta reader give some feedback on my decidedly female-friendly novel, and he liked it even though it is a genre he would not typically read. Small success, but one I'll gladly take.
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Re: Other ways to define success

Postby polymath » 08 Feb 2011, 12:47

Thanks, Aimée and Robin.

Writing success is meaningfully connecting with readers. It is a dialogue, albeit, largely one-sided in the contentious publishing process cycle.
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