Saturday, February 11, 2023

Choices to Make on Your Road to Writing Success


This being February, the music industry named winners at the Grammys, and next month the movie industry will do the same at the Oscars. Writers, who have been deluged for months with “best of 2022” lists, will find “best of 2022” award presentations of one sort or another running nigh up on through the end of 2023.


It seems to have put some colleagues and friends on edge. Nor sure why that is, but something I used to tell my students in the college level mystery writing course I once taught might be of help.


Jason searched for the Golden Fleece, Indiana Jones for the Lost Ark of the Covenant, and Robert Langdon for the Holy Grail (maybe someone should tell him that his buddy, Dan Brown, already found it), but writers appear doomed to wander the earth in search of something far more elusive.  No, not story ideas: recognition.


I doubt many writers would disagree that it’s virtually impossible to land on a writing site today without finding some form of promotional activity under active discussion alongside a flood of subtle and not so subtle self-promotional efforts. I’m not judging, we’re all “guilty” of it, including moi, seeking to find a place among the millions of books in the marketplace. 


I do admit that all this talk of promotion—how to do it, how not to do it, how important it is, how unimportant it is, how subtle it must be, how blatant it must be—makes me wonder how much of it makes any real difference in the long run.   Is the effort more akin to buying a winning lottery ticket than receiving a well-earned reward for diligent hard work, or does it lay somewhere between those extremes?  


Whether you’re a published, non-published, or aspiring writer—or for that matter virtually anyone committed to achieving––it’s up to you to decide for yourself what you define as success while navigating your way through the Four Stages of a creative journey: Wanting, Struggling, Attaining, and Enduring. 


We all set goals for ourselves, some modest, some wistful, some mad. But whatever our measure, we must be vigilant against failing to savor the unexpected joyful highs that come to us along the way. It does not matter how modest those bits of joy may seem at the time, for they serve to offset the inevitable lows we all experience at one time or another, no matter how bold or benign our personal vision of what writing success means to us.


Bottom line. It is up to you to keep your writing a joy and not a burden.





Jeff’s Upcoming Events


Friday, March 17 @ 9:00AM

Left Coast Crime

Tucson, AZ – El Conquistador, Turquoise 1

Participating in Panel moderated by Alice Volpe titled, “Crimes Around the World,” with co-panelists Connie Berry, Juliet Grames, Carlene O’Connor.


Saturday, March 18 @ 9:00AM

Left Coast Crime

Tucson, AZ –  El Conquistador, Presidio 1-2

Moderating Panel titled, “Both Sides of the Law,” with panelists Curtis Ippolito, Margaret Morse, Karen Odden, Michael Sears



  1. Jeff! Making promotional activity akin to buying a lottery ticket is my favorite thing I've read today. I love this post, it is so true. See you at LCC!

  2. 100% agree with your last sentence, Jeff! (And the rest for that matter.)

  3. Scratch 'writing' from the title and the last line (or the article as a whole :-) and replace it with 'life'. Still (and maybe more so) true.

    1. I agree, EvKa, but I didn't want to sound all that preachy. :)

  4. All so true--and I'm including Everett's life comment in that. I count it as 'success' that I still enjoying writing & reading--I'll try to hang on to that at least!