Success is …

When I was 24 and working at a fly fishing store in Houston, I walked into work one day holding the literary magazine that had just published my first short story. 

“Check it out,” I beamed, flipping it open to my page. A couple of co-workers gathered around, congratulated me and started reading.

For the next few days they told some of our regular customers that I was a real writer and at the end of the week, one of my co-workers said to me: “That’s really great about your story. It’s great that you have writing. It’s something you’ll always have to fall back on.”

I knew he was only being complimentary but I wanted to say: “No. You’re wrong. This store is something to fall back on. Writing is the real thing.”

David Mamet said: “Those with something to fall back on invariably fall back on it.” I vowed never to let that happen to me. I wanted to make sure all those other things in life didn’t push writing out of the picture.

It took me three more years to publish another short story. By then I was busy with yet another full-time job trying to pay the rent. Not that the struggle to survive is earth-shattering news to any writer.

Financial reward or not, the desire to write is always there. Some days are better than others and maybe we don’t always get to the desk as often as we’d like … but that doesn’t mean we’re not writing. If you’re serious about writing, it becomes part of you. You wake up feeling like you need to get something on paper. For better or worse, you’re an addict and you need your fix. Or your day doesn’t go so well. Just ask my wife.

A friend of mine used to have a coffee mug that read: “Success is doing what you love.” I remember reading that and thinking it was a very liberating quote. It allowed me to let go of my own inhibitions that came with being a writer. It enabled me to grasp my identity and say: “This is who I am.”

I am successful because I get up everyday and do what I love.

As writers, it’s the “other things” that we fall back on. The things we sometimes have to do to get by.

Writing should never be that. It should never be something to fall back on. Writing should always be something to look forward to.

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2 Responses to “Success is …”

  1. Elizabeth Krouse Says:

    George–Just now reading your May posting. How sad is that! However, the cosmos was obviously saving your wisdom to comfort me on a day like today, because it was exactly what I needed to hear. The part I’m still re-learning is how much I do love to write. I seem to have complete amnesia to the experience every single time. Then, when I finally allow myself the luxury of time and space to write, it flows and it’s a beautiful thing. I envy your addiction! I aspire to that.

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