22 November 2012

The Writing Finish Line: Do We Ever Really Get There?

When I was younger I thought that I'd be satisfied just to write a novel, even if no one read it. To know that I followed through on such an ambitious project would be enough for me. So I wrote one. Not surprisingly, my goal changed and so did my definition of success. 

Becoming published became my new goal. I fixated on it and even once said that if I was a published author I could die happy. How naive was I to think that I could be satisfied so easily and that I wouldn't change my definition of success once again. 

Publication is still one of my goals as I draft my second novel during NaNoWriMo, but what I've come to realize is that there is no "finish line" in writing. I can't fool myself anymore with sentences that start with "If I just..." and end with "...then I can die happy".

Networking with published authors who struggle to market their novels and still don't feel as though they've "made it" has taught me to cast off my illusions about the finish line. I will still have the same insecurities and desire to do better even after my book hits store shelves or online shopping carts. Hence, I'm adopting a new attitude: that doing whatever it is I feel called to do, not just in writing but in life, is all I need in order to die happy. 

If I'm content with who I am and where I'm at, whether I'm pre-published, post-published or in between, then I've already "made it". Hmmm. I guess there's a finish line after all.

What about you? How do you measure your success?

(Image from freedigitalphotos.net)


  1. That's a great attitude to stick with in life, Jen!

    I'm in the middle of reading Stephen King's "On Writing" and I was surprised he mentioned success with a different measurement. Being successful as a writer is measured in the produced product, not in the publication of it.

    Anything you enjoy doing which gives you a great deal of pride and satisfaction is more successful than anything else. You are the actual product created when you write, and if you're happy and thriving when you write, to me that's success.

    There are many writers who receive a paycheck for their writing, even though the writing is merely competent.

    I'm with you. Content with my progress, eager to finish a novel. I'll get there one day! :)

    Great post!

    1. Thanks Diane! I've heard great things about that Steven King book. I'll have to give it a read.
      Here's to our progress! May we always write simply for the love of it and because it's who we are :)

  2. Terrific post, Jen!

    At the moment, I'm eager to get my work out there. Beyond that, the finish line only means there'll be another book after that, and another...

  3. I hear ya William, after this finish line there'll just be another and another. Good thing it's a fun "race"!