A writer friend recently loaned me Writer's First Aid: Getting Organized, Getting Inspired, and Sticking to It by Kristi Holl. (Kristi has an excellent blog by the same name here.) While most of Writer's First Aid is helpful and down-to-earth, my favorite chapter is "Success: Horse Before the Cart." Thank goodness this chapter has helped me define success my own way before I've even come close to what most people call success.
Yes, I'd like to be published before 2010 ends, and yes, I'd love for people to pay me for books and stories. But even more than that, I'd like to enjoy every step of the way on the path to publication--in 2010 or 2012, or some other year before I die. I want the gratification that comes from hard work done well. I want to be a happy writer even as I dare to fail badly.
Because learning to write well takes time, the writer who postpones happiness until that time sets herself up for a miserable life. I made that mistake when I was younger, thinking I'd be happy once I'd landed a certain job, or made enough money, or did something-or-other-always-out-in-the-future. That's a sure-fire recipe for misery, if not for failure and misery.
My motto, then, for 2010 is "Despite..." I pledge to enjoy learning how to write, despite circumstances that might arise. That way, I can judge myself a success whether I sell my work or not.