Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Writing success is like the desert, with wind...

Success for an author is like the desert (pick a desert, any desert, but you will need a windy one for my analogy to work), or maybe an artist's perspective. Success is not a fixed point, either in time or space. Neither is perspective or a grain of sand in a windy desert (a windy dessert is a different thing, trust me). What I quantified as success when I started writing looks nothing like what I think success is now. And should I be successful according to my current standards, then I will shift my view of success again. If we achieve our dreams we don't stop dreaming, we find a new dream.

My level of success also changes depending on who is looking at it. If you are another writer your opinion of my success will depend on whether you are new to writing or much published. It will be different if you write for children, or if you write for adults and will differ again if you write adult romance, adult thrillers or literary fiction etc... Your view will change if you are a publisher or agent. And probably change again if you are either of those things in a country other than New Zealand. It will be different if you are a reader. And if you work in an industry that promotes literacy, directly through education (waving at schools and school libraries here), or public libraries, or books (Storylines, NZ Book Council) or writers (NZ Society Of Authors) or funding (Creative New Zealand) your views on my career and the success or lack thereof will vary again. Some people might think it is exciting to be me, others will be quite happy they aren't. See how confusing this can be?

The further on you go the more confusing it gets. I feel amazed, dazed and happy about the successes I have had so far. But then when I consider what I would still like very much to achieve, and what seems at times to be out of reach, I feel nervous and uncertain like a beginner. You never stand on top of the mountain, there is always one more peak to climb. I have to remember to pat myself on the back for the peaks I've reached and turn and admire the view as often as I can, but if you catch me on a day when the climb was particularly hard and I have been staring at the rock face for a while my view of success and your view of success might appear to be two very different things.

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