Yesterday, I got my first “Hey! We wanna publish your short story!” email.
First moment response: “FUCK YEAH! This is awesome! Feels pretty good. Validating. I must be a pretty good writer!”
Second moment response: “But it’s probably not a big deal, really. I don’t think a lot of people know this magazine. And getting published in one publication isn’t going to really matter in the long run. It’s really nothing. I should probably just shut up about it and pretend it didn’t happen.”
I’m not unfamiliar with this interior dialogue. I’ve had it from the first moment I got produced as a playwright. Every reading I ever scored. Every production that went up. Every award I won. Every conference I got accepted to.
Every. Single. Time.
I spent so much of my playwriting life apologizing for my success, downplaying the moments when my work mattered to other people. It was unfair to me. It was unfair to the people who were supporting my work. And it was buying into a very dangerous and limited idea of what success really is.
Success is your work connecting with other people. That’s it. The whole shebang.
If you’re brave enough to share your work, and someone experiences it and connects to it, you’ve succeeded. If it’s an international bestseller, a story published in a small indie digital magazine, or just a Google Docs file you share with a friend, if someone finds something of value in it, you’ve succeeded.