Why some writers succeed and others don’t

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you do, but people will never forget how you made them feel (Maya Angelou).


I like to read and I read omnivorously, whether fiction or non-fiction. I marvel at the talent and effort that lies behind all good writing, the courage of writers to pursue their craft, given the minuscule few who get published, or receive pecuniary recompense, or the public’s accolades.

I marvel at their discipline in fending off that great tempter, procrastination, for writing well doesn’t come easily and what’s tedious we most always avoid.

And then there is the ephemerality of all success that mocks their efforts, that no matter how well crafted, compelling, or discerning, that best part of a writer’s self, succumbs, inevitably, to a world busy with its own pursuits, forgotten, no longer in print, to be given away, or tossed out.

I was reminded of this when I downloaded a Gutenberg ebook freebie from more than fifty years ago with its reading recommendations of many authors I’d never heard of, though I have graduate degrees in English and taught for forty years at the college level. The list of recommended classics in our schools today is, likewise, considerably different from those I pursued, studied and taught across the years. Taste changes, fame fades, and life moves on.

Writers, nonetheless, pursue their craft against all odds and sucking sweets elsewhere for varied reasons, foremost to find acceptance and, in that best of all possible worlds, the convergence, like two mighty streams, of avocation and vocation.

Whatever, successful fiction writers must be good at seduction, alluring us with suspense, well-crafted plot embedded with conflict, intriguing characters, good dialog, an accessible style; nonfiction writers must also prove themselves good at seduction, appealing to reader interests, their quest for information and know-how, their need to feel smart. Writing is all about closing the deal. Giving readers what they want.

As readers, we like cosying up. We like being wooed.

Successful writers know this!






Author: RJ

Retired English prof (Ph. D., UNC), who likes to garden, blog, pursue languages (especially Spanish) and to share in serious discussion on vital issues such as global warming, the role of government, energy alternatives, etc. Am a vegan and, yes, a tree hugger enthusiastically. If you write me, I'll answer.

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