You didn’t notice, because it was sunny and how rare the sun in Seattle (so they say) or you were learning how papayas are like uteruses or you were capturing/releasing a slug from your bedroom ceiling (a story I wish were untrue). In other words, you were being you while the avalanche of new releases and books poetry and books not-poetry were raining from the skies, much like East Coast rain, because everyone knows West Coast rain (especially Seattle rain, should be more of a fine mist).
And you begin to ask yourself, what is this thing called success and how does it apply to a book? Before you had a book, you’d say that having a book would be enough. Then the book happens and a poem gets featured in Verse Daily and this is good, very good, but you want more. Your publishers, you submit The Cardiologist’s Daughter for contests and it loses. Every. Single. One. You long for some little gold sticker on your book that will set your collection apart from every other gold sticker (the ones that say “autographed copy”) and you begin to realize the only sticker that might ever appear on your book is the one you liberate from your teacher friend's bag of multi-colored stars.
Meanwhile, you read everywhere you are invited/can attend. You drive around the state of WA, down to OR, fly to CA. Multiple times you watch poets get weepy when you read that poem about your father coding in front of you twice, and being zapped back to life or maybe it’s the one about being handed a heart for the first time—just you with open palms holding a human heart.
A year and a half later, you are invited to participate in so many readings you have to start turning some down. So, you start thinking again—what is this thing called success and how do we measure it? When will we know when we have arrived? If we reach a certain point on Amazon, sell a certain amount of books? Can this be quantified? And what about those moments, where we receive an email from an editor, stranger years after our poems have been published to hear that our work had impact.
How do you measure success in your life and in your writing? Tell me, truly with warning. I may foist a free copy of my book upon you. Because books. Because readers of poetry. Because you (who are reading this).