A Guest Post by Anton T. Russell
In this writing game, the whole literary world and all that, I’ve listened to many discussions and have read many articles on the subject of being an author vs. writer vs. novelist … etcetera. For the life of me, I couldn’t find the title that best identified me. Many others involved in the discussions also could not quite agree on where they stood.
Since I’m not a bestseller, or widely known, finding a measure of success was very difficult for me, as I didn’t have those good days where I sold X amount of copies. As a result, I had always thought I was failing. I mean, really … I had just published a book and was also contracted by a publisher. Surely I could do better than that.
Uh, no. Write it and they will read it? Yeah, that wasn’t working out the way I had planned it. Clear failure, right?
It wasn’t until I talked with some trusted friends that I was able to understand that I wasn’t failing. Oh, they didn’t tell me what to look at, or how to measure my efforts. All they did was have that same ole discussion about being an author vs. writer vs. novelist … etcetera, and I was actually a part of it. Then it hit me.
I am a storyteller.
Beginning—plot twist—middle—plot twist—plot twist—end, and any other formula you’ve heard can be thrown in. It’s part of why I call it, “The Writing Game.” But that’s a-whole-nother-topic.
At any rate, by defining myself, I can now measure my successes and failures. See, I know where I stand, what I’m trying to accomplish. And let me tell you; I can pen one helluva story. That’s how I determine my successes, of course. The failures are just as clear. They’re the revisions that feel a whole lot like re-writes. The reader doesn’t know this happens, though. Still, when I have to re-write nearly a whole story, I’m not the easiest person to get along with. It means dumping more than 20k to 50k words. It that ain’t failing…
Yeah, so I tell stories. It’s a passion that grows within me each time my hands are idle and my mind wanders. Sometimes I find myself running to grab my super-secret notebook and adding details to a story-line I’ve yet to start working on. Then, when I’m in the writing groove and my office door is closed, I am as focused as a surgeon. For me, that’s winning. It is a tremendous victory, I tell you.
Succinctly, know what you’re doing, know how to get to where you want to be, and know what you are. Until you do those three things, you will forever measure yourself against others. The thing about that is; they WILL have had different experiences and backgrounds than you do. Oh, and success might mean something entirely different to them.
Although setbacks, stumbles, and missteps will seem hound your every effort, if you do YOUR thing to the best of your ability, you will find true measures of success.