34 Ways to Know That You’ve Made it as a Writer of Fiction

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1. When the amount of money you make from your writing is equivalent to the amount you pay for the alcohol that you’re drinking.

2. The stories you write are better than the ones you read.

3. A stranger comes up to you at a party and asks if you are Andy Dick, and you say, “No, I am not Andy Dick.” And the stranger says, “Well, then, fuck off.”

4. There are stipulations in your contract that account for nuisances such as noise disturbances and the manipulations of spacetime relationships that form while under the influence of paragraph-less mania, and you are not concentrating on or concerned with creating images that “pop”.

5. A Leonard Cohen record is playing on your record player, and you are putting the finishing touches on the last sentence of the last draft of the first part of a miniseries about a man who has lost the ability to use curse words, and you think, “Well, this, this is really something now, isn’t it?” while draining the last of your coffee and cracking all of your toes at the same time.

6. People are reading your stories at places other than nativeapp.toutiao.com.

7. You still do your clothes shopping at The Goodwill and other thrift stores, but feel as if you probably could afford to shop at fancier clothing stores such as Ross or Marshalls. Of course any writer worth her salt will always and only purchase their clothing and other paraphernalia at thrift stores.

8. There are no mice in your bedroom anymore (if you have a bedroom, which you probably still won’t), only in your kitchen.

9. When you buy your monthly pass for the bus, you make small talk with the drugstore clerk about how the price keeps going up by a 2 or 3 dollars a few times a year, and as usual you both make disparaging remarks about the rising cost of living and the yuppies taking over and the death of any real vibrant culture in the city, but afterwards you think, “Actually, I’m not so bothered as I used to be by a couple extra bucks for my bus rides.” And you feel a great sense of accomplishment and a rising self-worth as you start strolling with a little extra strut in your stride.

10. Your bathroom is clean. Very, very clean.

11. There is more food than condiments in your fridge.

12. Your editor has given up trying to make you write stuff that is, “appealing to a mass market.”

13. You purchase three-packs of paper towels and have an extra “backup” package of toilet paper in your closet

14. You’ve moved on from instant coffee to the good whole-bean Arabica stuff, and have even bought a coffee grinder.

15. You are using almond butter instead of regular butter on your toast.

16. Your latest novel is on The NY Times Best Seller List.

17. Sometimes, let’s say late at night on an otherwise uneventful Tuesday with only sound of police sirens to keep you company, you look out the window, perhaps with a cup of curacao in your hand, and you sigh, and you think, “This is the world that keeps…the one I need, not the one I get.”

18. Your spiritual advisor has told you to, “take a flying fuck, you sick, sick son of a bitch.”

19. You still get quite a lot of rejection notices on your stories (of course, this never ceases), but they are less virulent in their language about your lack of any discernable talent whatsoever, instead reading something along the lines of, “This is intriguing, but too wordy and abstract for our taste.”

20. The mail carrier knows your middle name.

21. You can afford the electricity to keep your laptop plugged in for more than a few 30-minute stretches a day.

22. When the phone rings, you ponder for a moment about answering it, instead of just letting it go to voicemail automatically.

23. When someone asks you about your day, you tell them, “Hell, Buddy. Shakespeare was a hack compared to me. I’m taking stock in myself, just about around now, and there’s plenty more where none of this ever seems to come from. Screw all those part-time poets and their bullshit violet-hued careering. I’m with the bluebells.”

24. There are more shirts hanging in your closet than there are on your floor.

25. “Sentences like this are enough to kill a person,” is something that you no longer say out loud, to yourself, while at work on a long-read collage piece.

26. You use commas anywhere you damn please.

27. The writing you make is equal to the writing you take.

28. The real people your characters are based on have stopped pestering you to change their fictional pseudonyms back to their real names.

29. When attending a potluck, you bring an actual food item instead of just your appetite and wit.

30. Susan Sarandon has started promoting your latest book of poems.

31. You have time to do pushups.

32. The serrated edge of reality is scratching at your subconscious in a plum-colored sky of baked potatoes and runes while you lie naked on the floor singing, “I know who I am. I know who I am not.”

33. You know exactly what words to capitalize in the title of a story without having to look it up.

34. You’ve stopped depending on other people to tell you that you’ve finally made it as a writer of fiction.

The only writer who matters

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