Did you know that 2,952 athletes competed in the 2018 Olympics? They were vying for a record 102 medals. Simple math tells us at least 2,850 athletes returned home without a medal. Since some athletes competed in different events and won more than one medal, the number of medal less athletes inches higher. Math is not my forte, but by my calculations only .05% of competitors won a medal.
And yet, I’m sure there isn’t an athlete among those who returned home empty handed who regrets having the opportunity to compete.
My favorite competition is the figure skating. I love watching the skaters’ dazzling performances, but even as I watch, hoping each will have a flawless performance, I know only one skater in a category will win the gold.
Think about it–the sheer number of hours these skaters have worked to perfect their routine. The gold medal beckons and they compete, compete, compete for the opportunity to go to the Olympics. But after all that work, many of them do not take home any metal.
Undaunted, they start planning for the next Olympic games.
The Olympic competitions remind me of writing. Hour upon hour of learning the craft, writing the work, submitting it or publishing it, being knocked down, picking oneself up, and yet determined to try again.
Bestseller status is our gold medal.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, 131,200 people are employed as writers in the U.S.A. This number includes all types of writing from cereal box ads to poetry with plenty of stops in between.
Pay ranges from the minuscule to the millions (of dollars). If you believe bestsellerdom means you’ve won the gold medal in writing, just remember 131,199 other people are trying for it, too. Based on the Olympic odds, not all those competing are going to win. Bestseller status doesn’t come any easier to a writer than the gold medal does to an athlete.
How do you measure your writing success? Truth is, we often forget that success has meaning other than attaining profit. Success can also mean accomplishment in an something you do well.
I am not a bestselling writer. Truth is, my family would have starved if we had relied on my writing income. I may not have attained name recognition or profit, but I believe I am a successful writer. While I would have loved to become wealthy from writing, it has never been about the money for me, it’s just something I love to do and get cranky if I don’t.
Mostly, I have had the satisfaction of having touched others’ live. I love that:
My home town set aside a day to celebrate a local resident whose accomplishments I wrote about in our newspaper.
Two Alabama men were presented a prestigious award for mechanics by the Federal Aviation Administration due to an article I wrote.
And then there’s the Aussie who was so delighted to find my humorous essay on the Internet about ants in the water reservoir of my iron. She said now her “mates” would believe it happened because she had proof it happened to someone else.
Success in the writing world, it’s all in how you measure it.