I’m not a New York Times bestselling writer.
I’m not a published author.
I’m not a writer under contract.
Shoot, I’m not even an agented writer.
No one from MTV has ever loved my book. Or read one.
I’ve spent lots of money on writing and never earned a penny.
I’ve written (and rewritten) three books…some for agents who then rejected me.
But you know what:
I’m a successful writer.
Now, before you chalk me up as delusional (jerk), hear me out.
You see, I love to write. It’s #3 on things-Bret-lives-for (#1 and #2 are family and dogs; #4 is New Mexican green chile). And therein lies my success. Firstly, I’ve found a true passion. Secondly, I get to participate in this passion daily.
How many people do you know that get to say this?
Very, very few.
I have something that makes me turn off the reality TV (except for Top Chef – I love that show). I have something that occupies my mind in the normally boring cracks of life. I have something that makes me set my alarm to an un-Godly hour and something that makes me pop out of bed happily when it goes off. That, my friends, is success in life.
Obviously, I’ll continue to pursue the agent, the deal, the published manuscript, the awards, MTV, and the bestseller lists. But that’s separate from the writing. Those are dreams and while they may be achievable, I can’t hinge my happiness on things entirely out of my control. To Talia’s point earlier this week: I can set and meet a goal to write, relatively distraction free, for 90 minutes per day. I can try to construct deeper characters. I can work to streamline my plots. However, winning the Newberry or getting an agent really depends on a potent cocktail of luck, talent, timing, and opinion.
Now, I know I’m going all Age of Aquarius on you. But seriously, it’s taken me a long time to get to this headspace…and to be honest, there are days where I slip back into my old ways. In particular, when I get all huffy after reading a book and think “That got published?” or “They got an agent?” (C’mon, you know you have those moments – however brief).
I also shouldn’t give the impression that it’s easy to write every day. Some days are easy. Many aren’t. But it’s like any solid, lasting relationship. There are times you may not like your husband/wife/whatever, but you always love them.
I’ve made a commitment to define my success by loving what I do. When I fall out of love with writing, then – and only then – am I a failure.