There are some very wise words here.
Just this morning, I was tapping away on my kid's book (you know the grant one) across the road from where Diana was seeing her doctor, and I realized that I sold my first story 14 years ago almost to the day.
Now that was my first sale. It was to Eidolon, and that sale took me about four years to make. Which means that I've been writing with the intent of publication for 18 years. That's a "career" which has almost spanned two decades.
Is it a successful career? Nah, and yup.
But more yup. For nearly two decades I've been writing short stories, enjoying the process, and selling the buggers. I've even put out a collection, won an award, and received a Grant from the Arts Council to write a book that I really, really wanted to write. Hell, I've even had fan mail. I've actually published enough short stories now that I've forgotten some of them, though the moment I read a line or two, I'm instantly back where I wrote the thing. Every story's a memory, be it the failed relationship that spawned Threnody, or the fear of losing my wife that's spawned, well, just about every story I've ever written since I fell in love with her.
I haven't been incredibly prolific, the short story count stands at around 70, and some of those are really short. I've made probably around 20k from the writing, most of which was last year, some of which was for writing on writing, and a few hundred taking a couple of tutes at QUT. Hardly a mighty income, but not bad for someone that most people have never heard of.
Of course I've had things fall through – and there's going to be more of them, and I'll cheerfully, tooth-grindingly announce them here. I still haven't managed to see a novel of mine in print. Oh, and I've failed, miserably and utterly at some projects. All of which have been, to a smaller or lesser degree, heartbreaking.
But, Christ, I've enjoyed it; the writing; the making things up; the unexpected places your brain can take you. That's all good.
And I'm still enjoying it. So, yup, successful “career”.