The Measure of Success

 by

Niki Masse Schoenfeldt 

Being a writer is not all glitz and glam. In fact, I have yet to experience either. With one published work out there and another due on shelves next year, I can attest to the fact that I am still very much struggling to make it in this business. As writers, we all think, “If I can just get my foot in the door. . .” But I have found it takes much more than your foot to get a leg up in the publishing world. Very few writers these days can make it as full-time authors. Most I know keep their day jobs. Very often writing is a part-time gig and is usually done on a volunteer basis. This means plenty of hours, but little or no pay. At least not until the contract is signed and even then, the hourly wage is only a pittance compared to today’s standards.

So why do we do it? The answer is simple; we can’t help ourselves. For true writers, there is always a story to be told. Something itching to get out in the form of words on paper. Most of us couldn’t stop if we tried. As rejection slips pile on my desk the urge to throw up my hands in defeat and quit this madness is overwhelming. But once the anger and disappointment wane, I find myself back at the keyboard, working furiously on a new idea. As the story materializes I become convinced that this is “the one”. The one publisher’s will scramble for. The one everyone will want to read. The one that is pure genius and destined for the NYT Bestseller list. And then, when “the one” is finished, it takes all the restraint I have to keep from sending it to my favorite editor right away. Even though this is my masterpiece, I know sending a first draft is like the kiss of death. Instead, I wait. I revise. I show it to my critique partners and eventually my rose colored glasses fall off and I’m able to see it for what it is. A manuscript. No more. No less. But if I’ve done my work to the best of my ability, and the timing is right, and I have a bit of luck on my side, an agent or editor will take notice. And I’ll have another notch on my belt.

As the old adage says, slow and steady wins the race. So this is how I plan to forge my career; one step at a time. One book here. One book there. Until one day, I will have an arsenal full of wonderful children’s books that I can be proud of. I may never be famous, like J.K. Rowling or the queen diva of kid’s books like Jane Yolen, but I will steadily make my mark. After all, I’m not in this for the money. I’m not in this for the fame. I’m in it to touch the lives of little ones.  For me, this is the true measure of success. Care to join me?

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