Hello, Charley Descoteaux here, welcome to my monthly column at Authors Speak. The column below was written last week and doesn’t feel appropriate today. I’ll leave it up, though, with the hope that it will do a little good to someone, somewhere.
Take care of each other out there~tough times are ahead but we can make it through, together.
This month I’m going to talk a little about success.
While pursuing goals sometimes it’s easy to overlook our successes. I know, that sounds strange, but please bear with me. Failures are often impossible to overlook, which is okay as long as we learn something. In my opinion, overlooking success is often worse than not learning from our mistakes. It’s impossible to overemphasize the importance of taking the time to reflect on our successes.
Recently I had the privilege to join a group of LGBTQIA+ Romance authors for a reading at a local Barnes & Noble. An amazing experience, it was something I’ve dreamed of since I first began writing with the goal of publication—way back in the mid-1990s. A reading at a real bookstore was one of the lines I drew in the sand. I told myself that that’s what successful authors do, and if I ever did it then I would officially be Successful.
I’m not going to say I didn’t have a blast or that I don’t value the experience, because that would be lying. However, it did reframe a few things for me. For one, I don’t feel any more “successful” than I did before that reading, and am still battling the same burnout I felt before the reading. Secondly, if my monetary rewards are doing the talking, they’re saying success is still more of a concept than a reality where my career is concerned.
Since my books aren’t burning up any bestseller lists and I’m not busy buying a new home or taking exotic vacations, I thought a look backward at all I have accomplished was the way to go.
- In the past four years I’ve published fifteen works of fiction: 5 short stories, 7 novellas, and 3 novels, with another novella due out next month and another novel early in 2017.
- I’ve been paid for all but one of the works listed above. (And not only a nominal acceptance fee or contributor copies, which is what I earned on all the fiction I’d had published prior to 2013.)
- I appeared on two panels at Gay Romance Northwest Meet-ups: as moderator of panel on kink and panelist on bisexuality in Romance.
- I’ve met some truly wonderful people who I never would have met otherwise. Despite the fact that #3 is true, I’m the stereotypical introverted writer—much more comfortable with words than people. Becoming a Romance author has helped me expand my comfort zone to include this amazing tribe that’s accepted me and my odd little stories.
- I’ve received some lovely emails and messages from readers. This is probably my favorite of all; taking everything into account the main reason i sought publication in the first place was to engage readers, to tell the stories only I can tell and connect with people.
That felt really good.
I knew it would, and yet I didn’t even consider looking backward until I was searching for an idea for this column. It’s not easy to take a break from striving to move forward—building momentum is important in any career. But we all need a break sometimes. Taking those breaks, basking in the glow of our accomplishments, is an important part of reaching goals and being successful. At least it is for me.
What’s on your list of accomplishments? What is your definition of Success with a capital “S”? How do you remind yourself of all the little victories you’ve had in your career, or just in life?
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