A few years back I told somebody that I was a writer.
"Do you support yourself writing?" he asked.
"No," I replied.
"So it's a hobby," he said.
Inwardly offended, I nodded in unconvinced agreement.
Later, I thought about it. Almost all of my stories, articles or poems appeared in 'little magazines that paid in copies. To be honest, considering mailing costs, paper, etc., as far as my writing went, I was in the red. Financially speaking, my writing was indeed a hobby.
When I was younger, I had aspirations of having my books published; or my plays, or a collection of my short stories, none of which I ever achieved. I succeeded in getting an occasional story, or poem, or article published. Over the years they amounted to a respectable total. But individually, it was nothing earthshaking.
Back then, if I could have known what I know now – that I would have to be satisfied with an occasional success, I would have been disappointed. I would also have been chagrined to know that I would be unable to support myself by writing and would have to work at a job and write on the side -- another basis for characterizing my writing as a hobby. Today I am satisfied with this situation. It is a matter of appreciating the success of the random and the lesser, rather than the permanent and the spectacular.
For me, then, as for most people writing, the occasional success is a reason for celebration, and not frustration. Not sour grapes, but pleasure from an occasional savoring of the vintage.
Sure, in the back of my mind remains the hope that perhaps one of my four novels will be eventually accepted for publication, or one of my six plays, or a book of my short stories, or a book of my poems. And if not, there will still be the satisfaction of, if not "less is more", then "less is enough." I do not say set your sights low. On the contrary, set them high. But if, with time, you achieve but occasional success, this, too, is something. Grasp the pen, not half empty, but half full.
And if you persevere long enough, success may come. After all my combinations tried of short stories to publishers, all of which were rejected, luck (or the Muse?) struck. My collection of stories was accepted by a publisher.
Stick with it.
The stories, poetry, and humor of Larry Lefkowitz have been widely published in journals, anthologies, and online. His collection of stories "Enigmatic Tales" was recently published by Fomite Press.
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