The day comes when you write those words and you think some variation of: Thank God/Goddess/Satan/Joseph Smith/My Alien Landlord.
You hit send, submit, re-send, or whatever at whichever stage of the writing/publishing game you are at, breathe a sigh of relief and rejoin the world around you.
You pull up Facebook and twitter which you've been scrupulously ignoring in favor of the Real Work of Being an Author. And you peruse the various Squee-ing, Snoopy dancing folks who spend their days recording their every move on line, noting with interest how many folks have received a coveted "best seller" honor or are up for yet another "best of the month/year/week/hour/second" award you are implored to go vote for, and you stop, scratch your head and think: now where did I go wrong?
You comb through your own emails, note with satisfaction the various "yes we want to publish" notifications and "here are your first edits" emails and think "Yes, I am okay at this."
Then, you make the horrendous and nearly irreversible mistake of "checking Goodreads and Amazon for your reader reviews." Holy Sh*t. You suck.
Au contraire, you cry to yourself, as you pour your first glass of alcohol. "I have been published. I continue to be published. Publishers want me." You check your PayPal account and note the smallish but growing deposits made by said publishers through the months. You ask your editors for some props. They give them, then scurry off to wherever it is editors go at night, author ego stroked.
Maybe there is something to be learned from the many and various blogs. You log into your groups account, start clicking through and find amongst the columns on guerrilla knitting, nom-noming hamsters and not-so-subtle allusions to "size mattering" in our Alpha heroes, you find a few nuggets of reality, a few small gems of the real work of being a writer amongst all the others. You make your comments, get caught up in looping arguments that inevitably degenerate into the "occupy wall streeters" vs. "get a grippers" ( I won't tell you what side I fall down on). So you stop, pour more alcohol and stare at the cursor, blinking like a neon sign of your failure.
What do YOU do when it all feels futile? We've all been there. No matter how successful you are, how hard you work to achieve the small iota of fame you've achieved, sometimes all it takes is 30 minutes online to bring it all crashing down around your ears and send you scurrying for the nearest bottle of Beam.
When will you know you've made it in your own mind? Do you have to be a JR Ward level cult hero? A Stephen King-like urban legend (You know, "Carrie" got rejected a zillion times first)? A self-pub phonon like Konrath? Or does the fact that you took a set of characters, gave them a story, a setting, a conflict and a resolution, put on paper with enough clarity that people who sell books for a living see promise?
What does it take to make you feel successful as a writer?
I open the floor, and back away slowly.....