The thoughts and work of Sam Witt

The Loneliness of Success

For the past six years, I’ve been enrolled in a grueling court reporting night school course, on top of working on a couple of novels, on top of a more-than full-time job that had me regularly working 60 hour weeks over the last couple of years. It was a horrible period of my life, marked by sacrifice, poor health, no free time to speak of, and a generalized hate of the world around me. It’s been the most challenging thing I’ve ever done.

And now, I’m done.Not with the job or the novels, but with school. I just passed my last set of tests and am all set to take the state certification exams in April. The moment when it was announced that I’d past my last qualifying tests, that all the hard work had paid off and I was finally finished with school, was one of the proudest moments in my life.

It was also one of the loneliest. Because I was surrounded by folks who were not there yet, who had struggled just as long and hard as I, but who still had long months of hard work ahead of them. They wanted to be happy for me, but I didn’t expect them to cheer along with me – it’s hard to be happy for those who escape when you’re still stuck in the trenches.

Writing is much the same. You spend years working on your craft, honing your stories to present them to the world around you. As a writer you crave publication, the feeling that you’ve arrived, that you’ve succeeded where so many others have failed. While you struggle, you may have the support of your family and friends, you may be surrounded by fellow writers all working arm-in-arm to reach the same goal.

But when you finally do arrive, don’t expect your supporters to blow trumpets and praise your name. Your success is great – for you. For others, even your staunchest supporters, it can be tough to swallow. We all work hard, we’re all dedicated to our craft, and it can be hard to see one of your peers succeed while you’re still failing.

Achieving your dreams is a great feeling, but it’s lonely, too. Celebrate your victories, but don’t expect anyone else to understand or truly appreciate what you’ve done, or how hard it was to accomplish. Raise a glass of champagne and toast yourself, take a moment to really revel in the success, because only you really understand what it all means.

Then set up another goal and get back to work.

About Sam

I am the author of the popular Pitchfork County series of horror novels. I also write a newsletter with great reading suggestions and free fiction.