HOW DO YOU MEASURE WRITING SUCCESS?
When I escape from the blog tower now and then, I go exist in a parallel world. It’s called the DAY JOB and it’s a faraway land of pixies, everlasting sunshine and unicorns who know how to make really good apple pie.
In my other life, I’ve recently been spending time with friends and colleagues who have taken substantial steps in their careers – new, more prestigious jobs, assuming more authority, expanded duties. With most careers, it’s pretty easy to objectively measure advances: promotions, more money, a better office. My friends are doing well, no doubt about it. Everyone around the water cooler knows it.
But, when I jump in my Jetson’s style car, with the interdimensional upgrade and standard Back to the Future style hover conversion, to journey back to the writing tower, I’m left…what? Confused? Unsettled? Unfulfilled? No, not really. I’m still doing what I do: writing blogs and books and witty (yes, they are, shut up) tweets. But how do I know if I’m getting anywhere? And what does that mean? How do I know if my career as a writer is “advancing” the same why my suit-wearing colleagues in that other world do?
And is it even a fair comparison? I don’t drive to an office to write my stuff. I go upstairs to that room with the desk. I already have a corner office. Sometimes I sit on the couch with the laptop. To me, that’s the equivalent, I guess, of a company retreat or something.
I’m not at a point in my writing that I can use how much money I’ve made as a good barometer, because, really, I haven’t made that much. But is that a good measure? Book sales prove success of a book, obviously, but my question at the outset of this blog was about measuring career advancement. I suppose more sales/more money is like corporate giving you a big raise. Likewise, I suppose an award is like a year-end bonus. Favorable book reviews are the little “How Am I Doing?” comment cards businesses give out.
Does it matter? Above all, I , and probably most writers, write because it’s what we love to do. We’re compelled to do it by the hinky wiring in our brains. That’s what’s important, of course. But still…my day job feels a LOT different than life in the writing tower.
So how do I measure writing success? I don’t know. How do you? Is it a personal thing? An objective measure of book sales and awards and favorable reviews? What do you think?