There’s plenty of advice out there for authors who want to set writing and career goals, but virtually nothing for those who want to thoughtfully plan how to live in the midst of the inevitable changes publication can bring.
In 2012, the year May B. came out, I wrote a series of posts called Navigating a Debut Year that ultimately led to my Writer’s Manifesto. A few years later, while trying to determine my own sustainable definition of success, I asked a number of writing friends to share theirs, too. And sometime in the middle of it all, I blogged about the reasons I write in the first place — a north star I can hold to when things don’t go as planned.
This topic feels perpetually relevant. Everytime I speak at a writing conference, somehow it works its way into the conversation. If you are a writer (or teacher or librarian or person!), I encourage you to explore the reasons you write (teach, etc.), create your own sustainable definition of success, and examine how you respond to public feedback, comparison, and envy. There are no rules in creating a manifesto. I hope you might take the time create a personal statement to both guide and encourage your future work.
In my writing life I will write the stories that speak to me. I will continue to write what nourishes and interests me first and worry about the market second. In my writing life I won’t lose my love for story, kids, or words. Once you’re published, art becomes commodity. It’s not right or wrong, it just is. I want my motivation and passion to remain firmly in the place it always has been. While there are no guarantees of success in writing this way, their is much joy, and this, in the end, is more important to me.
Ten years in, my manifesto still hangs over my desk, helping me remember what matters and what doesn’t.