The definition of success

A workshop I attended…

 Author Unknown tells Supercool Author:

You’ve been my idol.  You did everything I wanted to do.  Tell me…how can I avoid making the mistakes you made…your career just tanked.

At this, I just kinda gaped.

Because Supercool Author has the kind of career that makes me starry-eyed. A movie made after her books.  She’s mega cool.  Yeah, yeah, sometimes we perceive things to be bigger or different than they are, but she’s still an author I’d call a success.

Author unknown has set the bar for success at hitting a list.

I haven’t hit a list yet.  I’m wondering…will I?

I’ve been doing this for a while now. I see shit that happens behind those names.

I’ve known authors who put on a happy, smiling face while secretly they have families who don’t support them.  They have husbands who try to force them to walk away from a career they wanted.  They have significant others who do not care about the things that make them happy.

They hit lists…. and ten years later, you see their books in the remainder bin at the dollar store and are they still writing?

I see authors in dollar store bin all the time…USA TODAY BESTSELLER…and the names ring nothing on my mental scale.

I see MEGA BESTSELLING AUTHORS who treat their readers like shit and walk all over the people who helped them get where they are.  Because nobody does it alone.

Does all of that add up to success?  How successful are you if you’re full of spite?  How successful are you if you have nobody to truly share it with at the end of the day?

This author who supposedly tanked?  She’s funny.  She’s sweet.  She’s genuine and kind.  She’s happily married and she’s got kids she loves.  And she’s able to pursue a career she loves with the support of her family.  Regarding her career, people know her name.  She has readers who know her and love her and support her.

That is success.

I was talking to my husband about all of this the other night, and damn it, I want that list thing. So bad.  I want it so bad I can taste it, and I’m not giving it up.

But… I have a guy who tells me this, in a matter of fact way.

You’re doing what you want.  It’s all you ever wanted to do with your life and you’re doing it.

I’m married to my high school sweetheart.

We have three beautiful kids.

I have a family who loves me.  A husband who supports me.  He doesn’t see my writing as a hobby and he doesn’t mock it, make light of it…and when it did get big for me? He didn’t try to take from me or make it seem like it was something he’d done for me.  It’s mine…I worked for it and he’s happy for me and he’s proud of me.  He’s there for me and he supports me and it’s the most amazing gift.  I pity women who don’t have that.  I’ve got three kids who think it’s pretty damn cool to have a mom who tells stories for a living.

And I’m a storyteller.  That’s all I ever wanted to be when I grew up…a storyteller.

I’ll define what is my own vision is.

Am I successful?

Damn straight.

4 Replies to “The definition of success”

  1. This post is awesome! I’m early in my career and sometimes I forget what’s really important.

  2. It comes down to perception and definition, doesn’t it? I agree with your definition – having a loving partner and family who supports you while you pursue your dreams equals a successful life. List or no list.

    It seems, from your telling of it, that author unknown’s perception of success is a bit shallow. And wow, what a tactless question/statement. The fact that you are so outraged on behalf of Supercool Author speaks to why your books are so rich and full of depth.

    You get it. You see the story from all sides, you see how each piece of the puzzle fits to make a person whole. Life is not one dimensional. And life is always about the personalities, the relationships and the connections we make, and working to make our dreams come true. For which there is no list that I am aware of.

  3. You’ve made it and deserve it! You worked hard, never stabbed anyone in the back, wrote what and how you felt and made us happy to read your work; you’ve achieved your goal!

  4. You sound successful to me. I know those list are wonderful to get on for authors but there are several authors that are must reads for me that have never gotten near those list. When I finished Night Blade my first reaction (after why oh why did you do this to us readers) was to think what an incredibly smart move you had made by ending it the way you did. I am now truly hooked on this series and care about what happens to Kit beyond her relationship with Damon ( though I still really care about that). Anyway to me when a writer can hook a reader like that they are successful.

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