Today I’m starting a new series, Yes! Success! And I hope that whether or not you’re a writer, you’ll gain something of benefit from the posts. The ideology and methods are universal to whatever career you’ve chosen or whatever path you’ve decided to embrace and walk.
Yes! Success!: PART 1: WHAT DO WE WANT?
We all want something. It might be fame, fortune, validation of worth or to be assured that we’re not just taking up space but living. And at some point, we all realize that our entire lives last but a blink, that our great-grandchildren won’t know much about us or be aware of our struggles and accomplishments–in a few generations, we’ll be forgotten, and that inspires us with the desire to leave an immortal mark.
Many writers console themselves with the fact that they’ll leave behind their books. They will speak for us. They will let those who come after us know who we were, what mattered to us, how we thought and what we thought about. But while we are in our books, we are not our books, and so a time comes when we realize that this might or might not be the immortal mark we sought.
And that leads us to ask a defining question: What is success?
For some writers, it’s making the New York Times list. Earning a lot of money, having a lot of adoring fans, long lines in front of you at book-signings. It’s being treated with deference and respect by your publisher, your editor, your agent, your publicist, your writing peers, your fans, your family, strangers on the street.
For other writers, it’s selling your books consistently so that you have a stable income and can help out with the family financial responsibilities. Fame and fortune and adoration aren’t your cup of tea. Paying your bills is because it enables you to be at home, caring for your family.
For still other writers, success is hearing from one reader that something they wrote impacted that reader. Helped them through a hard time. Opened a window or door in the reader’s mind so that s/he saw something a little differently, understood something that before then s/he hadn’t understood.
For other writers, success is experienced not through the books written, or the sales, or the adoration of others, or even the recognition that the writer wrote. Success is in knowing that the writer made a difference in one other writer’s life.
And for still other writers, success has nothing to do bestseller lists, or publishing, or fans or other people. Success has everything to do with writing a book. With gathering ideas and thoughts and having the wherewithal and the discipline to sit down and to keep sitting down and sticking with it, start to finish, until s/he can write “The End.”
Many of us buy into other’s visions of success without ever exploring our own. We don’t stop, drop the images of others’ definitions and think and assess and determine for ourselves our own definitions.
And that makes achieving success impossible. We will never be content nor satisfied nor fulfilled living someone else’s vision. We need–and deserve–our own.
There is no right or wrong definition, only different ones. Each is valid. Each is worthy. Each is significant.
The human being in us is often too concerned with what others think. How they’ll react. How they will treat us. What they will say–in front of us and behind our backs. But when we focus on these things, we’re assigning our personal power, our innermost selves to someone else. To someone who can and will do nothing to carve our immortal mark; they’re busy creating their own.
So while others might judge and find us lacking. Might advise us based on their definitions and not ours. We must not relinquish that personal power. They have their own. This power is ours. In it we discover and determine what we want. And holding fast to it, we ask, How do I define success?
And then, if we’re wise, we listen…
©2007, Vicki Hinze