How do you measure success?

An interesting question was posed on this week’s "The Dead Robots’ Society." As 2012 is currently rolling into 2013, we asked ourselves what our achievements were for the year. "Do you think you were succesful" was followed by writing, business, whatever. 

I read the question as "do you feel successful as a writer." And it made me think a bit.

Since I started releasing my fiction via podcast and then selling a hardcover and many e-books, I’ve made less money off my writing than I usually make in three days of contract work. And that was at my old, very expensive rate. Yes, it’s all relative. I know.

So why the hell do I spend all these hours writing, podcasting, editing, conversing, and etc? Why would anyone work so damned hard for so little money?

I guess because I enjoy it.

Let me level with you. Thousands of folks have downloaded my books via podcast. The vast, and I mean vast, majority didn’t purchase the hardcover of Fiends. BTW–if you’re looking for signed, limited edition copy of said book, please visit my store. They didn’t purchase it for one reason or another. Probably because I was charging too much money for what is essentially a collector’s item. Or maybe because they didn’t know if was for sale? Possibly because they simply couldn’t afford it. So was all the money, time, and risk spent frivilously? Was it a failure?

How come I haven’t sold millions of ebooks? Should I feel I have failed because Garaaga’s Children, that I thought was a sure thing, hasn’t managed to take off like a fighter jet? Was all that effort, the writing, the research, the editing, the podcasting, and etc, simply wasted? How I can possibly feel I’ve achieved anything less than 0 when I haven’t even recouped the cost of a professional editor and artist for nearly every one of my books?

I’ll be honest. I put way more effort into what I do than what I’ll probably ever get out of it. At least monetarily speaking. I know this. I know the chances of me making a living at this are probably worse than purchasing that big jackpot lotto ticket.

There are better writers out there. I know several of them.  There are stories that are much more satisfying than the ones I write. I read them. There are characters, settings, and plots much more complicated than anything I can dream up. Yup, very well understood.

So what have I achieved?

I’m a writer again. It gives me pleasure. I can act in front of the microphone, bringing my characters and story to life, and it makes me happy. I’m not as popular on the podcast circuit as I once was, but I have lots of listeners. and therefore my words are reaching them. As long as I have listeners, I’ll keep podcasting, because that in itself is an achivement.

It took much longer than I’d planned to write Scrolls. I can write an entire essay on why that was, but trust me, it was extremely difficult to finish. But I did it. And the comments I’ve received tell me I hit the mark. I count that as a great success.

I’m almost finished with the first draft of The Rider, which is my very first science fiction novella. Getting asked by Dark Øverlord Media, by the FDØ himself, in fact, to write a novel in the GFL universe was a huge achievement.

In addition, I’m now part of The Dead Robots’ Society which I consider a great honor. But don’t tell Justin I said that. I didn’t ask to be part of the show, I was asked. Either Justin and Terry are insane, or they think I add something to the show. Yeah, I know, they’re crazy.

Basically, this year has been chock full of personal achievements. Money has not been one of them and that will either come or it won’t. I work hard at what I do and I’m constantly trying to improve myself. Perhaps one day I’ll figure out how to make decent money doing this. Until then, I’ll just keep writing, podcasting, coding, and etc.

You keep listening, I’ll keep podcasting. You keep reading, I’ll keep writing. There are many more stories for me to tell. Stay tuned while I bang them out.


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