My idea of “accomplished” has evolved over the last few years. In 2019, when I started properly writing, my only desire was to see my work published two times, with no real care for what the publications I was getting published in were as long as they had a legitimate presence, and I was very successful in this, getting eight (if I’m remembering correctly) short pieces published by different literary magazines and websites within the year. But at the end of that calendar year, I realized that while I had succeeded in my original desire, what I was doing wasn’t quite right, and I was unsure how to proceed. Although I was getting published, I hadn’t been focused on the quality of the outlets I was being published in, and although I wasn’t ashamed of them, they weren’t the magazines and websites where I ultimately hoped my work would be featured. I became stuck in a rut of uncertainty. There were several months where I wrote nothing at all, and in the midst of those, the pandemic hit, and I became even more unsure what I was supposed to be doing.
Eventually, I decided that I needed to approach a career as a writer in two ways: I needed to build my audience and I needed to hone my craft. If I could achieve both of these, I felt I would be the writer I wanted to be.
The desire for the latter resulted in me applying to this program, and it has been such a joy. I had forgotten what it was like to be in school and feel yourself growing and learning and getting better. There have been so many moments in my courses when I’ve thought, “Ah! If only I’d known this before…” which is a rather wonderful feeling because you can see where you have room to improve and have the tools to know how to. If accomplishment is growing in skill and learning from one’s mistakes, becoming a better version of yourself, then I believe the program has helped me to become more accomplished in a more important way than mere publishing could.
The former – building an audience - seemed the easy part. Though I was unable to write in those months prior to starting classes in August of 2020, I was able to work on my social media pages and form connections with other writers and readers, and I started using those pages as an outlet for nerdy joy when everything around me in the real world seemed to be crumbling. They became a community of support and happiness for me, and I do feel accomplished with how far I have come with approximately 45k followers across my pages.
Although I have been published, am getting better as a writer, and have a healthy audience at my disposal, I am far from how I would define successful. While I feel accomplished, success will look and feel much different to me. To be successful, I will need to write something I truly give myself over to and, hopefully, will earn a tidy bit of money from. I haven’t found that project yet, whatever it will be, but when I have completed it and worked it into something that I can be proud of, then I will feel successful.