So one of the cool things happening here in moose land is every night, we ask one question and everyone answers it. Things like, "What things do you love to see in a book?" or "What are you strengths and weaknesses as a writer?" It has been edge-of-your seat interesting (no sarcasm here; I truly find it fascinating to see what people are saying.)
Last night, the question was: "How do you define success?" As in: at what level do you need to be at to feel that you're successful?
Everyone here at the retreat are at different stages. Some of the answers were ones I could see in myself, past, present, and/or future: to make a living from writing, to be published, to see a book on the shelf, to get a meaningful piece of fan mail, to be able to make a lifelong career as a writer. Some were amazingly touching and beautiful and revealing. We laughed, we cried, and I made inappropriate jokes (as usual).
I was one of the last to go. Originally, my answer was to "write words that make me happy." There are a few projects--Across the Universe being one (and AtU Book 2 not being one)--that have been, literally, joy to write. Working on a book that is more torture than joy makes me miss that.
But there is also joy in completing the terror, and there's happiness in hard work, so that's not entirely my full answer.
I almost said I wanted to have more of the same: this has been an amazing year, one I wouldn't mind repeating a la Groundhog Day, but that seems...limiting to want to have the same thing, even if it's wonderful.
In the end, I said this: I spent ten years writing, but not feeling proud of being a writer. I hate now that I let lack of publication negatively define me, but there you have it. So, this is how I will define my success: that I spend at least ten more years in which I can proudly call myself a writer.
What about you? How do you define success for yourself?