You Get to Define Success
A writer in a group I belong to was feeling discouraged about the lack of comments on her blog and author Facebook page.
People offered the usual advice: Post about things that interest you! Pick up the frequency! Give it more time! But a number of people also said: I just don’t have time to read blogs anymore. I just don’t have time to keep up with Facebook. I just don’t care.
By the time I reached the end of the comments thread, I felt discouraged, too. How am I ever going to get my book into the world if no one cares? How am I going to be successful?
Then I realized: I don’t know what “being successful” means anymore.
The publishing industry is changing so quickly. Technology, too. People are finding new ways to share their stories every single day. There is no one definition of success.
Why not create my own definition, so that success stops being some ambiguous speck in the future and becomes something more tangible? More meaningful? More satisfying?
That’s what’s been occupying my mind this past Thanksgiving: How should I define success?
For the longest time, I’ve defined success as having a book published by a major publisher. I’d love to walk into Barnes & Noble one day and see my book sitting on a shelf. But here’s the thing: I have two young children. Even if I did sell my book to a major publisher, I wouldn’t be able to publicize it. I wouldn’t be able to dash off to NYC for interviews and book signings. And if I did, I’d spend the whole time missing my sons.
So what might success mean to me, at this stage in my life? It could mean:
- Showing up each day with humility and a reverence for the process
- Honoring my curiosity, my instincts and my rhythms
- Creating with joyful abandon
- Sending my work into the world unencumbered by expectation
- A firm devotion to craft
- Trust in a master plan
A writer friend’s book is being considered by two publishers.
(Psst—go like her awesome Facebook page. It'll help!)
Yesterday she stopped by my office to chat about the news. She’s been working toward this for years, so I expected her to be on edge. But she said she’d be at peace with either outcome:
I hadn’t thought about it that way before. What a lovely perspective. I’m off the hook right now: I can go slow and savor the process. I can choose my own workload and set my own deadlines.
It might not always be that way, so I might as well enjoy it. I might as well consider this, too, a success. And if a major publisher decides to publish The Skeleton Club, well, I'll just add that success to the pile.
What's your definition of success? What could it be? I hope you'll share your perspective with me.