I was talking wirh writer Dov Zeller the other day on Twitter. During our conversation, I asked him what his ideal writing career looked like (with being chronically ill). He then asked me about my "perfect" career. And, I didn't know how to answer.
Dov is a novelist, essayist, and photographer. I write poetry and flash fiction. He could, if the stars align, live off royalty payments. In poetry, I'm lucky if I can buy dinner... one dinner. He could have a whole team polishing and marketing his books. If I find an affordable freelance editor, I'm lucky.
Are we talking relatively plausible or sheer fantasy?
My ideal writing career includes:
1. A full-length collection every three years (from first piece written to the finished book being sold). Every book I put out is error-free and looks professional.
2. A fan base! Not sure how large, but I'd like my fans amazing and dedicated.
3. No entry fees... ever.
4. Certain presses publishing more than one book of mine. So many poets never find a "home press" that they can trust and keep publishing with.
5. Some success in other genres, though I'll never be a horror novelist. Sorry, mom!
6. An in-person poetry group of radical, incredible poets. We'll all cheer each other on and help one another. No jealousy, plagiarism, or feuds.
7. Easy promotion/marketing (help with it). I can do a reading or a talk and be entertaining (without passing out or crying).
8. Someone to edit my poems/books so I don't make a fool of myself. This person is affordable, patient, skilled, and kind.
9. Changing people's lives for the better... somehow.
10. Publishing (widely) in literary magazines. I never publish somewhere (presses or magazines) I'll regret in the future.
11. No longer feeling like I need a degree to be successful.
12. Expansion of The Handy, Uncapped Pen.
13. Starting a writing program in my community for at-risk teens. We need it here.
14. A humble heart. I never want to forget what I fought for, and what others fight for every day.
15. Attending a (fairly close by) conference. Maybe this one, though I have no money or way to get there. I've always wanted to go to a (good) conference... or two.
Some things I listed probably don't seem like part of a writing career, but they are the most important.
There are probably things I missed. I didn't mention making boatloads of money because there isn't money in poetry. I didn't talk about agents because there are no agents for poets. Can't travel around the country selling books because of my chronic pain and lack of funds.