After years of heavy sighs and longing looks, I’ve finally managed to sit on a writers’ success panel. The wonderful CYA Conference people invited me to present a talk to other writers about how my experience with CYA helped lead to my publishing success.
I was delighted to take part – it was a dream come true! But it also made me think about what it actually means to be a success. I was listening to my fellow panel members. All with different stories and different paths, and all undeniably successful.
It made me ask the ultimate question – do I consider myself a success? The answer was typically twisted. Yes and no. Yes, because I reached my goal. And no, because now I have even more goals to fulfill. I don’t want this to be my only kids’ novel. I’ve had a taste of fiction writing and I want some more.
I found it interesting to hear Wendy Orr, author of Nim’s Island and fellow conference presenter, talk about her own experiences. She said that with each success, she found holding back her inner critic increasingly difficult. It sounds odd, but I totally get it. Maybe there’s never a stage when writers think “this is it, I’ve succeeded in everything I’ve ever wanted to do”. The more we do, the more we want to do and the better we write, the better we want to write.
But what if this is it for me? What if Mike the Spike is a one-off? Does it negate the success I’ve had so far? Of course it doesn’t, but before the conference I knew I’d consider myself a failure if I couldn’t follow on. I guess that’s what keeps driving me. Maybe other writers feel the same, I’m curious to know!
But the conference got me thinking. If you’re happy with what you’re doing, you’re a success. If you keep pursuing your goals, you’re a success. The only time I as a writer I can say I failed is if I ever give up. If I let that pesky inner critic get the better of me. And thanks to the support I encountered at the conference, I know I’m not going to let that happen.