Successful Writer · 21 August 2021

Commercial success does not always mean true success. In any industry.

It seems the writing community has fallen into the same trap the rest of the world has fallen into. The notion that commercial success equals true success. I suppose that definition holds true if you are a salesperson. Maybe.

Think about it. If you gain the world but lose your soul in the process, have you really had success? Popular culture tries to answer this same question, including the movies. Movies about money versus success abound in every generation. Just ask George Bailey.

So if monetary success is not the true definition of success, what is? I am so glad you asked. Even though I am not completely sure. Rather, I am not sure it is the same for everybody.

I am sure of what success means to me as a writer. Success for me as a writer is that I continue to produce blog posts every week. Success means that I continue to write, edit, and publish books. Success means that I do not ever have a blank page in front of me at the end of a morning session of writing six days a week. The rest is gravy. (If you like gravy, that is.)

If I never sold another book on Amazon, if I never gained another reader (real or imaginary) of anything I write, if I never had another soul comment on my blog, I would still consider myself a success as a writer. Just because I put pen to paper. Just because I put myself out there for the world to see. Or not see.

I cannot really control if anybody sees, let alone reads any of my stuff. Sure. I can promote myself on social media or otherwise. I can do some sort of self-publishing or seek an agent to get a publishing house behind me. I can do lots of somethings to get more readers. But while having lots of readers is surely a bonus, it is not why I write. Yes. I would love to have lots of people read my blog and my books. I would love lots of people to read my poems and music lyrics. I would love to have some musician say that he or she wants to record a song I have written. I would love a movie studio to tell me they want to make one of my screenplays or books into an actual movie. I would love any or all of those things to happen. I would love to make them happen for me. But in the end, none of that matters. Success does not rise and fall with the almighty dollar. Especially for me.

Perhaps that is the problem. People think that the dollar is truly almighty. Or at least they act like it is. It seems to be the is all to end all. The final goal. In reality, money is a tool. And people need to treat it that way. I heard a wise person once say that we need to love people and use money, not the other way around. Perhaps the other way around is why we have the notion that commercial success equals true success. Perhaps we have loved money too much.

To be clear, I do not condemn those who deem commercial success true success. The question for those people then becomes: How long do you work until you are a commercial success? A year? A couple years? Five years? (After all, five years makes a pro.) Twenty years?

I suppose the question of how long a person works at anything to find success depends on the person. After all, many people ask themselves: How long do I work at any one job until I find myself just spinning my wheels and looking for something else? The answer depends. Mostly, on who you are and what you value. But we should all be aware. The Holy Grail might not be out there. Sometimes you just need to grow where you are planted. And for a writer, that means you can never end the day with an empty page.

I am sure I have touched on this subject before. After all, I tend to reuse and recycle, even though I do not re-post. (I suppose some people think I ought to just compost my stuff.) Still, the subject of success is a worthy subject to muse about from time to time.

When it comes right down to it, commercial success is not true success. Not for the writer or for anybody else.

© 2021 Michael T. Miyoshi

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