What Is Success?

Friday, 23 May 2014

Lately, the thought of self-publishing has been on my mind. Partly because I have listened to James Scott Bell's Fiction Attack on Audible in the car on the way to and from work over the last couple of weeks and he talks a lot about self-publishing in it.

I have wanted to write for longer than I can remember. What I can remember is the stigma that came with, what was then called, 'Vanity Publishing'. Even as a teenager I had dreams of being published, so I watched the literary world with great interest. Back then, I pitied those who stooped so low as to pay someone to print their book. I knew that would never be me. I was going to make it big. I was going to be a success.

Fast forward to today. The stigma is gone from self-publishing.  I'm not sure who is directly responsible, but I know Amazon had a great deal to do with it thanks to the invention of the Kindle. Everyone is jumping on board the Indie train-- even traditionally published authors! And maybe me... one day.

The question is really, what do I want from my writing. The short answer is, of course, a living. Or at the very least a supplement (can I pay a few bills?). Once upon a time I said I was going to make it big; be a success. But what is a success?

Back in high school, I also thought I'd become a surgeon. I would have been a damn good surgeon if I could have afforded the second degree. Sometime over the last few years, though, I started to worry what people would think of me, particularly people who knew I wanted to go to medical school, when they found out I never made it. Would they look down on me because I became a research technician instead?

I can't remember exactly when, but at some point I decided I didn't give a damn what 'they' thought. The important part was that I was happy. After all, what really determines success-- your paycheck? I think it has more to do with your lifestyle. And by lifestyle, I don't mean driving a BMW and playing golf on the weekends-- unless that is truly all that makes you happy. I mean being happy in your world.

I love playing with my kids. It makes me happy. I love writing. Again, it makes me happy. Now, I won't lie, if I ever do decide to attend a high school reunion (there has only been one so far and I wasn't about to fly back to the states for it), I would love to tell everyone that I made it big doing something I love-- and have at least a couple of people who have seen my work on the shelves of their local book store-- I am only human after all.

But even if I never make it big, I will be happy. It may be my age creeping up on me, but these days, I believe that being a success means not getting up every morning and running through your day in a rush, never slowing down to enjoy it. I believe that success means doing whatever it takes to be content in your own life, not constantly chasing some lofty goal-- or trying to catch up to the Smiths.

So will I self-publish? Probably. Eventually. I still would like to see my books in print, so I will probably start by submitting the usual way, but I can see many definite pros to self-publishing. And I know that when I have a book polished and ready to publish, the effort and emotion that went into IT will be a success. As for me, I am happy, so I think I may have already found success.

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