What Does Success as a Writer Feel Like?

So, as you know, because you read Tiny Cat Pants, obviously, this weekend, I went and found Shackle Island. “Found” in the sense of “I didn’t know where it was and now I do” not in “this treasure had been lost and Betsy recovered it.” I wrote about my investigation for Pith. The editor of the Scene wrote to tell me that it had 75,000 readers from Facebook alone.

I don’t know how many people look at Pith a day without coming through Facebook, but I do know that a bunch of people also shared it on Twitter.

I don’t really know how to feel about this. I mean, I feel good about it, obviously. But the kind of writer I aspire to be is a fiction writer. I want to make up and write awesome stories that people love. That, for me, is what success looks like–people regard me as someone who makes up stories they love.

But I don’t want to be a dumbass who is looking for success in one corner and doesn’t see it sitting in plain sight in the other. After all, nothing fictional I write is going to ever have 75,000 readers, most likely.

So, realistically, I should feel like this week is some great milestone in my writing career, some pinnacle I may never achieve again. But I don’t. I feel like today is Wednesday. I feel a little proud. I wonder if I should write more history stuff for Pith. But I don’t feel like today is unique in some way.

It’s nice, though, don’t get me wrong. And I don’t want to take it for granted.

But I also am going to laugh a little because, Shackle Island, really? That’s what the world was waiting to hear from me about?


4 thoughts on “What Does Success as a Writer Feel Like?

  1. I don’t think you’ve come up against an either/or situation. Most obviously, there are plenty of writers who work in both fiction and non-fiction. But more than that, think about what it is you did in the Shackle Island piece that grabbed people: is it the structure, the voice, the puzzle-figuring, the local color, the first-person adventure, what? Once you get a handle on that, see if you can use whatever it is in your fiction.

  2. Think of it this way; if they see your name elsewhere, like on your books, it will seem faintly familiar to them. They might be more inclined to pick it up. They might even remember liking your Shackle Island piece and assume your fiction is worth a try also. Marketing!

  3. Fiction and non-fiction skills and talents buttress each other as much as you let them, seems to me–and you’ve shown that you’ve got both. I notice that I’m not the world’s leading narrtaive fiction screenwriter, but what I learned about writiing for film has served me in non-fiction again and again. (Don’t tell anybody.)

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