Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Saturday, March 7, 2015

What Makes a Success?

Writer Teri Tiffany posted a link to this article on Facebook, about the idea of success and failure in our world today.  Teri recently had her first novel published and is struggling with the mixed ideas authors get from people.
Trajectory is the flight path an object takes after force is applied.
Every writer will have a trajectory to their writing career and will affect the lives of certain number of people.
- See more at: http://www.stevelaube.com/the-trajectory-principle/#sthash.GwXgXEXg.iHpyRXB4.dpuf

You know the questions and assumptions:

How many copies have you sold?

Have I heard of it?

Is it at (name a bookstore)

And the inevitable comparisons to whatever bestselling books are now being talked about

As writers, it is vital if we are to continue doing this work we love, to ignore whatever landmarks of success others, or society at large, may impose on us. We must set our own goals, take joy in reaching every accomplishment, even if it's a very small step, and keep moving forward.

In my blog tour this week, authors Madeleine Sharples and Mari L. McCarthy post about their own fears and what reading Afraid of Everything meant to them. When one of my books touches another person, then it's all worthwhile, and I feel like a success at what I do, even if my sales or book rankings don't show it.

When I was young raising my family, I'd feel like a success when one of my children would say, "I love you, Mom."

What are the simple pleasures in your work or daily life that make you feel successful?

18 comments:

  1. We have to have our own standards of success.
    And I equate the how many copies have you sold question with asking someone how much an hour he makes at his job.
    Simple pleasures to me include the outpouring on IWSG day, being a hero to my wife, and knowing that God is pleased with me. Beyond that, it's bonus.

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    1. Good point about the book sales question, Alex. I guess that's why it always bothers me and feels so inappropriate. You know, I think one reason I enjoy blogging is how even a small thing like getting a new follower or comments on a post is reaffirming and feels like a success.

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  2. When I'm travelling - getting from A To B without a serious drama, or managing a drama if one dumps on me.

    And - at home - small things like a grandchild running out of school to give me a hug, as if I'm the one person he or she wanted to see at that very moment!

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  3. Yes, Karen, yes. The same for me. If one person is touched my words, I feel successful.

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  4. Applicative readers who I've never met, and an applicative family who has seen me when I had the stomach flu. I call that success.

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  5. It is a shame that people go by #'s of books sold rather than quality. In films now they go by how much it raked in at the box office and some pretty bad movies made big money while other films were not known but are true gems and have withstood the test of time. If I can help one person find a way out from their debt and feel the weight lifted from them, it makes my work worthwhile. I also believe in always looking at the positive even when life has thrown you some bad things. This was confirmed for me this past week when my ex's brother was found dead in hos bed. His was a life that could have been so much more but he allowed the negative things that happened in his life to overtake him. He found escape through alcohol and was driven to consume all he could. In the end he died surrounded by decayed food and a multitude of empty bottles. He was 61. When we feel sad we can take some solace that we will not succumb to dark forces that can eat at our thoughts. Living the life we have been given to the best of our ability is one of the best triumphs we can acheive

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    1. Birgit, That is really sad. You're so right how a positive attitude and appreciating the good we can do in our daily lives will make all the difference.

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  6. I feel successful because:
    I've learned a lot of life lessons without suffering too much damage.
    I treat people decently and help them when I can.
    I feel greatly appreciative and thankful for what I have.
    What I have most of, is a great family that (for the most part) loves me...

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  7. I write because I feel compelled to. If I had to gauge it by success stories I would be readily disheartened. To me, writing is like an antibiotic for my soul. Without it I feel empty and directionless. The antibiotic is the pen and paper. It doesn't matter the mood, the writing always snuffs out the virus. To me, that is my greatest success.

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  8. Hearing the voices of the ones I love makes my day a success. Anything beyond that is gravy.

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  9. Isn't the blogger community a wonderful group of people. Having such friends is success with a capital S. And thank YOU, dear friend for cheering me on, as I also do you.

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    1. Ann, I look forward to reading your new memoir. Good luck staying off Jen's video games LOL.

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  10. True success can't be measured like that. It's more about how we make lives better for others.

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  11. I think that a lot of people, especially Americans, have a success mentality, which is why we are a nation made up of workaholics, unlike other nations that take longer vacations and siestas. I visited one of those countries, and the people there seemed so much happier and relaxed.
    I'll never be a successful scholar like my grad school peers, but I know that I'm a good teacher. Several of my students approach me at the end of every term to tell me that my class was their favorite, that they're taking another class with me the following term, or that they started reading more books by authors I recommended. That makes me feel happy and successful. I just wish that it was enough to impress the search committees at the schools I'm applying to, but unfortunately it's not (for most of them, being a good scholar is more important.).

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    1. Neurotic, It's so cool that you are getting this kind of positive feedback from your students. For anyone who wants to be a teacher, this is what it's all about, more than pleasing the administration. Unfortunately, teachers must do the balance act to keep the admin people happy as well. I've got teachers in my family and this seems to be the biggest complaint.

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  12. Much luck and fun to you during your tour.

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  13. It's great advice. I'm not sure I always manage to follow it, but I do try...

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