1. Hollowly
    Offline

    Hollowly Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    1

    Most of the authors I like weren't successful

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Hollowly, May 2, 2011.

    I find that most of the authors I like weren't that successful. Perhaps a few of them, but only after they were dead. I'd like to write in the same genre as them, though I don't think my writing style is the same, (maybe that could save me?). Basically what I'm getting at/asking is - are the writers you enjoy successful and if they weren't and you want to write like them, but be successful, how do you get over the fact that they failed where you'd like to succeed?
     
  2. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    Simple - I don't expect to succeed. There are better, clearer thinkers than me just on this forum; so success to me does not mean much. I'd consider myself successful if I end up getting a job; pay the bills and live a good, happy life.

    George Orwell - for an example - never had a steady job, never had a steady publisher, and was poor most of his life; and yet is now a much loved classic who managed to dispel the illusions of Stalinism, Totalitarianism and Imperialism all in his novels.

    It depends on how you view the word 'successful'.
     
    2 people like this.
  3. popsicledeath
    Offline

    popsicledeath Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    71
    I've also noticed the same thing, that writers I enjoy and idolize never really found success in their lifetime (of non-contemporary authors, that is, as most of the contemporary authors I enjoy are still living, though often not gaining the success of a Dan Brown or something).

    I don't think this is cause for alarm, though. If you look back through best-seller lists from the early 1900's, even literary historians can be hard pressed to recognized most of the authors. Yet, plenty of the people writing from those eras, even though shunned or forgotten in their time, are household names at this point.

    One thing I think aspiring writers need to think about is how they define success. An easy test is asking whether you'd rather have a best-selling novel, or posthumously be given a Pulitzer. Seriously, think about it. There isn't a right or wrong answer, but the paths are potentially very different.

    Once you answer that, it gets easier. Personally, I could care less about widespread success in my time. My goal is to write the best stories I can write. No, wait, my goal is to write the best stories ever. I'm prepared and fully expecting to never find financial success, and realize I may not even find any success in the other, harder to define, form of success.

    Who would you rather be, though. That forgotten, best-selling author whose legacy died when they did, or Kafka, who had a friend not broken a vow, would have burned all his manuscripts upon his death, but who's now a legend?

    And sure, there is plenty of middle ground, but preparing for either extreme is a good way to identify one's goals and how they might define success, which will in turn then open up those middle grounds, perhaps, as they'll have a goal and something to work toward, at which point who knows what will happen once a writer gets words on a page.
     
  4. Killer300
    Offline

    Killer300 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    Messages:
    1,064
    Likes Received:
    37
    Honestly, I want to try to do both. I want to try to write at least one book that is timeless, but perhaps not the most sellable thing ever, and another that's very well selling, but not necessarily the most timeless thing ever. Usually the first means experimenting with writing techniques and stuff, while the latter seems to be just having an incredible concept, although there are those rare stories that can do both.
     
  5. katnip
    Offline

    katnip Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2011
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    CA, united states
    i like to think that if your a fan, and others are fans, then they're really not that un-sucessfull as you think. somthing about them had to have gotten your attention, and there's probably more of you than you know. sure, their book isn't a movie or a house hold name, but would you like them if that was the case? i think not.
    if i was a published author, i would rather have a few fans that love my work for what it is, than to have millions who say they like it only b/c is popular this year
     
  6. psychotick
    Offline

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,371
    Likes Received:
    307
    Location:
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Hi,

    Well I'd like to write a humungous bestseller and be able to retire early, but I don't imagine its going to happen any time soon. Having said that I imagine that quite a few of the authors I like weren't able to do it either. I'm sitting in my study surrounded by shelves full of B grade (and sometimes worse) sci fi and fantasy books, and strangely I love nearly all of them.

    So if I end up following the same path but have a few people one day reading my novels and enjoying them, I think I'll be a happy man.

    Cheers.
     
  7. Hollowly
    Offline

    Hollowly Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    1
    Thanks for the response guys. :) I guess I'd measure success for myself as being both profitable and well crafted. I'd like to make a living off, in part on writing and on other artistic skills. I guess I just have to remember that success comes in different ways and to keep honing my craft.

    lol psychotick I enjoy my B grade stuff sometimes too.
     
  8. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    Just fake your own death, then come back to collect the profits. :p
     

Share This Page