Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What, Me a Success?

Click HERE for website for JD Webb Author of Mysteries.

Authors’ egos are easily bent/damaged. We are constantly rejected and reminded that we are inadequate. Over these past few years, I’ve taken heart after hearing the stories of famous authors and their rejections. Then comes a question from a friend: Are you disappointed that you have not yet become a name like King or Patterson? Well, after wrestling away depression, I started thinking. Am I successful? First answer – darn right I am. Another bout with doubt. Why am I writing, and am I satisfied with my career?

After I had toiled in the corporate world for twenty-five years, the company decided they no longer needed me—or even my job. Cripes - rejection. I promoted myself to cobbler and owned my own business for eleven years. When the economy for cobblers (predating the economy for others) went south, I closed my business. Rejection number two.

I became a full time author in 2002. Since that time, I’ve had three mystery novels published by a small, respected electronic publisher, and have a fourth coming out in 2010 by a different small also respected publisher. Each of these submissions paralleled the process for publication by the big guys: query letter, first three chapters and then the entire manuscript.
I’ve had several short stories published, and am the owner of the Publishing and Promoting Yahoo group with more than 900 international members. My novels have garnered awards and wonderful reviews. So I considered myself successful. At least until the question from my friend.

Holding that first printed copy of my book was the realization of a life-long dream. Finally, when I was 65 years old, my book was published. I’d always wanted to be a writer, writing short stories all my life, and had the some-day dream of writing a novel. My very first goal was merely to finish a book. I had no desire or thought about getting it published. I’d read enough about authors to know that every one of the famous names has a first novel stashed in the back of a desk drawer.

A second book followed. An author friend in my writing group encouraged me to submit it to her publisher. I had already placed a rejection folder in my file cabinet. With my track record, rejection was a forgone conclusion. I should be ready for it. To my astonishment, they wanted to publish the book. Well, the bug had bitten me. I thought, “Hey, I have another book done, why not send it as well?” And three months after the first was in print, the second came out. I had no qualms saying I was a success. I even sold a bunch of them. Not thousands of copies, but actual people were reading my books. And liking them. Presto, I was a success. More books came.

But the question continues to taunt me. Am I a success? I ponder. And yes, by golly, at the moment I am a success. I’m doing what I believe I was meant to do--tell stories. I’m giving pleasure and smiles to readers and enjoying every minute of the journey, even the dreaded promotion and business side of writing. I have a wonderful writing group who help me overcome my grammatical ineptitude and a beautiful, supporting wife who is my biggest fan. And my “job” allows me time to volunteer and give back to my community.

When I listen to my characters talk to me and drive me to the finish line, I am in heaven on earth. I sometimes read what I have written and wonder where the heck that came from? I’ve made myself laugh and cry. Isn’t that what life is supposed to be about? Joy and sorrow? I thank you, God, for giving me the talent and tenacity to keep going. I am a success. Just ask me.


Maryann Miller said...

Nice essay, Ginger. It really helps to stop the mad mania of marketing and promoting and measuring success, to take pride in the work and joy in the magic.

Ginger Simpson said...

Maryann, If only I could write an essay like that. It's the superior work of my blog guest today. J.D. Webb.

I love you for thinking I'm that creative. *lol*

kanishk said...

I could just visualize the horror on her face. Looks like you have a winner here.

Work from home India

Ginger Simpson said...

Kanishk, Thank you for the comment and the visit. You're always welcome at "Dishin It Out."

I can't let this pass, and I don't mean to be snide, but I suppose it would be fairly easy to work at home from India since that's where the U.S. outsourced most of their customer service jobs.

Kat said...

LOL Ginger so true about the outsourcing. Still, just getting something published at all is amazing so I definitely think you are a success and should be proud.

Denise said...

Great post, JD.

Pauline B Jones said...

Good post, JD. It is easy to let other people define success for us. I've had people tell me I'm not "business-like" for submitting to a small press, but that is how I run my business. My job is to protect my muse and I do that to the best of my ability. I am successful at managing MY writing business. If others don't agree with me, that's their choice. I can't control what they think, only what I do.

Morgan St. James said...

You've done it again, Dave. Summed up what many of us have experienced in a tidy package. You know you're one of my favorite authors. I love your style and casual approach to your stories.

So many of the things you say ring true. I, too, was in the high-powered business world, pulling in the good bucks. But I get more satisfaction from seeing my books in print than I ever did battling the sharks.

We both have books with the same press, and I know you feel as much as I do that they're a family rather than THE PUBLISHER.

Fulfilling a dream, is certainly one of the definitions of success. And, by the way, you beat me by a year. Although I had published magazine articles and short stories, when the first edition of A CORPSE IN THE SOUP came out in 2006, I was 66, nearly 67.

Another "success"...and I would bet you feel it being able to be an inspiration to people our age. Unlike many women, I don't hesitate now to say how old I am, because I know the fact that my first book came out at age 66 is a motivation for many.

Keep at it.


J D Webb said...

Thanks to all for your kind comments and to Morgan, who I should really pay as a publicist. LOL
I wish everyone their own brand of success.

laura said...

This is a wonderful post. And you're right...when it comes down to it, we should be the ones who hold that measurement stick of success up to ourselves. Too many of us authors compare ourselves to those around us and end up depressed. We should set goals and achieve them and then decide whether we were successful or not.

Great job!

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