What constitutes success for a writer?

Can. Ch. Shiralee’s Elizabeth Barrett (“Sonnet”)

I’m not keen on being in the spotlight. My comfort zone is more behind the scenes. But since the mid-1970s I’ve lived with show quality purebred dogs. For years I subdued my nerves and stumbled around the show ring with our Shelties. Eventually a good friend (who later became an all breed judge) rescued me, and I soon discovered it was much more exciting to watch from the sidelines as the dogs won.

Our Labrador, “Tynan”, third from left with handler and friend, Jayne Luke

Many exhibitors thrive in the competitive environment – one of my recent manuscripts features a character who is addicted to it – but I’m not one of them. My thrill comes from being the breeder and/or owner of a dog whose quality is well presented, acknowledged and rewarded. I don’t need to be in the ring trying to make it happen.

In the purebred dog fancy success means different things to different people. It can be achieving goals in a breeding program – producing sound minds in sound bodies, and great family companions…

Can. Ch. Riversedge Tynan at Careann (“Tynan”)

owning top quality show dogs that can win trophies and ribbons in competitions…

.  .

or becoming a celebrity (of sorts), perhaps in a movie or magazine.

Yes, that’s our “Tynan” on the cover

In the writing community defining success can be challenging. Many writers labour over their words in private, satisfied by their written expressions in journals and personal memoirs. For some, having their words make a difference to others is the goal as they write devotional material or create encouraging messages for greeting cards. Still others strive for publication of books that will garner great reviews and take their names to the top of bestsellers’ lists.

“For every available bookstore shelf space,
there are 100 to 1,000 or more titles competing for that shelf space.”



Not everyone reaches a specific goal. Sometimes the criteria for doing so is beyond their control. Sometimes the effort put forth isn’t adequate for the desired result. For me, what’s important is acknowledging my motivation, seeking God’s will in my decision making, setting realistic goals, doing my part to reach them, and enjoying the process en route. That’s a hefty list, but I believe each item on it is crucial if I’m to feel fulfilled and be content with my level of success.

What’s your interpretation of ‘success’ in your current endeavour(s)?

~  ~  ~


Published by Carol

A freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction living on the West Coast of Canada.

5 thoughts on “What constitutes success for a writer?

  1. What is success? That the writing is honest, makes people feel something and gives them a glimpse of possibility they couldn’t see before they read it. So far, my blog hasn’t been found or followed by many. So perhaps it doesn’t achieve these goals. Though one reader told me privately: “you did real service for dogs everywhere with that post.” So I’ll take that as my true mission “accomplished” although the validation that is suggested by having a wider audience would be nice. But that might not be the grand design. And it shouldn’t matter. We should do what’s right even if NOBODY is watching.

    I write–and have come back again and again to the written word in my life and work and volunteering–because it just seems to be…necessary…to being.

    Thanks for YOUR work.

  2. I love my dogs, but none of them were disciplined enough to be shown. Your puppies are all so beautiful, Carol. As for what is success… Seeing my novels published. Years ago I imagined success as a guest on Larry King. Then Larry went and retired. Ha, now I’m older and being famous is no longer a dream. I would like to be rich though. Probably shouldn’t admit that, but having no money troubles and buying a house big enough for a writing retreat would be pretty kewl.

  3. Thanks for adding your comments here today.

    Judith, the Shelties certainly share their musical names, don’t they? ‘Concerto’ is quite unique. Each of the names we’ve registered with the Canadian Kennel Club through the years was streamlined down to a single ‘call’ name, but I always thought Sonnet’s was one of our prettiest.

    Toni, thanks for sharing your writing goals. I know it takes a while to get a blog well established and develop a following. We never know who may ‘happen’ by to read and benefit by a particular message so writing from the heart to meet personal standards is a good way to proceed. I’ll have to come and check out your blog now.

    Joylene, I’m not a big fan of talk shows so I would have missed you on Larry King anyway. LOL! Being published is one goal you’ve reached, and your journey getting there is an inspiration to me… a reminder to persevere. As for being rich… I’ve heard you can never have too much money or be too slim, but I fear I’m never going to be in a position to prove the truth of either one! 😉

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