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This month made me think more about the elusive literary success. Now, who wouldn’t want to live from selling their novels, and having a yacht, a shelf of magazines with their interviews inside and so on? Just that it is merely a dream I would fall from my bed and wake up as a consequence of it. And, sincerely, it is not my realistic dream. An impossible one, maybe – the “what if?” category stories are made of.
On a NaNoWriMo November, success would mean at least 50,000 words at the end of the month and a winner certificate. (Failed this year. A bit less than 20,000 words and no way to finish the novel which was 75% written at the beginning of the month… But, of course, I’ll keep writing and I’ll finish it – and the 3 or 4 subsequent volumes of the series, some time next year.)
Yes, I wrote every day, all the month, even if not every day at the NaNo novel (some days I corrected the 3 books which have appeared this month). And it may count for something, even if not for NaNo….
For some writers, success means getting paid for writing and not needing a proper job/ career for paying bills. I don’t see things this way. I am retired. I had a job in project management/ European Affairs, I have brought enough EU funds to my country, now it’s the time for the younger colleague to assert themselves. The pension is what pays my bills. I write from passion, because my stories want out of my head and on paper/ screen, to arrive to other people. When it will feel like a second profession, I’ll give it up, because it would mean something got wrong inside me in the meanwhile.
For me, success is about finishing a story and having it read, understood, appreciated. I know that not everyone would like my writing, exactly how I don’t like some good writers’, because I don’t resound with their stories, but I believe that each writer has her readers/ fans. I know some people are waiting for my novels to be published, and this is a success. I have reviews and chronicles, and this is success. I have a fan who sends me every year a knitted doll. All these mean success and appreciation. It doesn’t matter that it is at small scale.
It was a success to have some of my books displayed at the international book fair, even if there weren’t many sold. How could they compete with the big titles and price reductions at the big publishing houses? How would they be chosen, if not by someone who knew already about my name and my writing style? Not many people gamble on reading books by new Romanian contemporary writers…
It was a success to receive two literary prizes and to qualify for being published in anthologies for poetry and short fiction, even in the cases that I didn’t win a prize, because, naturally, others were better. Actually, in 3 years and a half from the literary debut, having ten published books (yes, the tenth is on the way, still in December!) and works in 7 anthologies (I think) and in several issues of 3-4 literary magazines, is more of a success than I’d think…
Of course I’d wish for more readers, for my books to be easier to discover by the readers… For more chronicles too, in order to be able to fill the form for the National Writers’ Union. But things will come in their own time, if they are meant to come. I am not a genius, just an average writer among many YA writers. It is enough, because people need books like mine, exactly how they need many other kinds of books. And success doesn’t always mean laurels and a money rain. (Or, well, a more suitable kind of rain for certain writers like me).