At a social gathering recently the host dragged me over to a group of friends because he was talking about my work.You see some years ago research for a non-fiction title (African Crafts) took a group of us to Ghana; he was part of that group. The photographs taken on the trip were to appear in the book. As a joke I told him he'd appear on one of the pages. I was as good as my word and when the book was released I gave him a copy, this he’d dragged out and was showing around.
During the conversation someone I’d briefly met before said something along the lines of “how exciting, I know a successful author.” I quickly responded “hardly successful.” I received a quick nudge in the ribs from my other half and a close friend asked, “well if over 20 published books is not success, what is?”
At the time my reply was, “to make a good living from writing.” This unfortunately (like many jobbing writers) I'm still trying to achieve and top up my income by teaching creative writing.
However this did get me wondering, what is success?
If you’d asked me this question when I first started to write the answer would have been getting a book published. Once I'd achieved this the answer would have become getting a second book published. As the years have passed I would have also included:
- Read a good review of one of my books – tick!
- Receive at least one piece of fan mail – tick!
- To be asked by a publisher to write for them – tick!
- See one of my books translated – tick!
Today my original reponce, to earn a good living from my writing is perhaps at the top of my list. However I also dream of:
- Seeing my book in one of those vending machines at an airport
- Having one of my books turned into a kids programme
- Cuddling one of my characters because it's been turned into a toy
- Winning an award
- Hear one of my characters names being shouted across the local playing fields and seeing a dog eventually doing as it's told
So what is success?
Deep down I think success is when someone who does not know me, will never meet me picks up one of my books, buys it, takes it home and enjoys sharing it with their kids.
Or am I being sentimental?
Should I really be shouting from the roof tops "bring on that film deal.”